Anna- ACL Reconstruction

Anna, 26 from Chelmsford, Essex had a ligament augmentation and reconstruction system (Lars Graft) to treat her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture at Spire Hartswood Hospital, Brentwood in January 2012.

I have been getting back to normal as the strength improves in the muscles around my knee. I feel confident walking now and have begun to be more active again
Anna, Chelmsford

Anna plays hockey for the Chelmsford Hockey Club Ladies 1’s team, so when her knee gave way, she was keen to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Here, Anna answers some questions about her diagnosis and treatment:

When did you first start to have problems?

After I had caught my foot in the turf playing hockey I knew I had done something serious as I couldn’t put full weight on my leg without my knee giving way to the side. 

How did the problem affect your day to day life?

I couldn’t walk on it properly without it giving way, it was swollen and painful and I couldn’t drive or work initially.

How did you go about seeking medical advice?

I have used a physiotherapist before so I went straight to the GP for a referral letter. The physiotherapist referred me to Mr Lennox for a consultation after assessing my injury. I then went to Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood and saw Mr Lennox who examined my knee and found there was a loose movement which he said suggested I had torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). He arranged a MRI scan which confirmed this and showed a few other problems as well.

How did you choose your specialist?

Mr Lennox was recommended by the physiotherapist and had operated on my partner’s knee in the past to good effect, so I had full confidence in him.

What were the treatment options offered to you?

As I had injured so many areas of my knee initially there was only one option - keyhole surgery.

During this Mr Lennox corrected torn cartilage, smoothed off my thigh bone and assessed how badly my ACL was torn, I then had to allow time for my bone and a different strained ligament to heal. Once this had all been done I saw Mr Lennox again and he explained the ACL was 95% torn and that I could have surgery to replace it or I could continue with the physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles around it and see how I got on.

What made you decide to go ahead with treatment/surgery?

After discussing my options with Mr Lennox, who explained things very well, I found out that if my knee was to give way again, then I could re-damage the areas that he had already fixed.  As I play a lot of sport this was a risk. I decided that I would rather have the surgery and know that I was strong enough to cope with all my sports and activities without the worry of re-injuring myself.

What was your opinion of the care you received at Spire Hartswood?

I was really happy with the level of care during my stay, the rooms have private bathrooms, are clean and aesthetically pleasing. I was looked after well and all the staff; physiotherapists, nurses, anaesthetist, surgeon and caterers were all friendly, explanatory and helpful.

What did the recovery process involve?

I am only part way through my recovery process but it has, and will involve, lots of physiotherapy, strengthening and movement exercises. It is not easy but I would have had to do a lot of similar exercises if I had opted out of the surgery and may not have got the results that I am currently getting.

What impact has the surgery had on your life?

As I am only in the early stages of my recovery I cannot fully describe the difference made but initially it hampered life, as you would expect. I had to have time off work, was unable to drive and just do the things I would usually do. However over the last two weeks things have been getting back to normal as the strength improves in the muscles around my knee and I feel confident walking now and have begun to be more active again.

What advice would you give to another patient in a similar position to you?

Weigh up your options with your surgeon and ask as many questions as you need before you make your decision. Ultimately, if you lead an active life style and are willing to put in the time with the rehabilitation exercises then the results are worthwhile. The surgery has left little scaring on my leg so that is something you need not worry about.

Any other comments on the whole experience?

Things were always fully explained to me by Mr Lennox and where there was an option of treatments, it was my decision as to what course of action I took. 

The consultant's view by Mr Iain Lennox, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Anna had suffered an ACL rupture caused by an injury she received whilst playing hockey.

Her lateral femoral condyle bone was bruised; she had damaged cartilage and had sprained her medial collateral ligament and torn her medial meniscus.

This injury is not uncommon and you can often find severe forms of this injury from skiing or football activities.

Anna’s treatment included reconstruction of the ACL ligament and physiotherapy to rehabilitate the ligament and strengthen the leg. It also included a knee arthroscopy to trim away the rough cartilage in the knee cavity which was causing pain, and to repair the damage to the articular cartilage. 

Typically in the past recovery from this treatment would take a year or so, but with the new LARS graft it is only three or four months. LARS ligament grafts can be used to reconstruct both the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. The scaffold of the LARS graft provides a meshwork for the injured ligament to heal and repair and should provide immediate stability, reduced rehabilitation time and quicker return to normal function.

Anna was walking without any problems within three months and playing hockey a year after her ACL reconstruction.

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Mr Iain Lennox

Mr Iain Lennox treated Anna with an ACL reconstruction.
Read Mr Iain Lennox's consultant profile.

More about the LARS artificial knee ligament

The LARS artificial knee ligament is available at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood.

Read more about the LARS artificial knee ligament here

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