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(LCL Repair; Fibular Collateral Ligament Repair)

Definition

Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) repair is done to rebuild the ligament. The LCL sits on the outside of the knee. It attaches the thigh bone to the lower leg bone. The LCL helps keep knee stable during movement.

Reasons for Procedure

Surgery may be needed if the ligament is damaged or weak. It may be done if:

  • Ligament was injured and other treatment has not worked
  • The LCL is torn from the bone
  • Ligament is damaged by structural problems in legs
  • The knee is unstable—it locks, catches, or feels like it will give out

Other ligaments are often damaged along with the LCL. All repairs can be done at the same time.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some possible problems such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to nearby structures
  • Stiffness, numbness, or other knee problems

The risk of problems is higher if you:

  • Smoke
  • Drink
  • Have long term diseases such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about the medicines you take. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to 1 week in advance.
  • Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before the procedure.

Anesthesia

Your doctor will talk to you about options such as:

  • Spinal—You will be numb from the waist down.
  • General—You will be asleep during the procedure.

Description of the Procedure

The skin over the area will be cleaned. Small cuts are made in the knee. The doctor will pass tube-shaped tools into the cuts. One tube has a camera. It will send images to a screen so the doctor can see inside the knee.

The LCL is replaced with a piece of tendon. Small holes are drilled into the leg bones. Screws will attach the tendon to the bones. Over time bone will grow over the tendon. It will make the bond stronger.

The cuts are closed with stitches or staples after all the ligaments are repaired. A bandage will cover the cuts.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1 to 2 hours.

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Your knee will be sore after the procedure. Medicine and knee support will help to ease pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

The care team will ice your knee. You will be given pain medicine.

You will be able to leave about 2 hours after the procedure.

At Home

There will be some movement limits. Devices will help to support the knee so that you can move around. Full recovery can take a few months. Physical therapy will help to regain movement and strength.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, or drainage from the wounds
  • Medicine is not helping your pain
  • Ongoing nausea or vomiting

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine  https://www.amssm.org 

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://www.orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca  

When It Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  https://whenithurtstomove.org 

References

Knee arthroscopy. OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.org/en/treatment/knee-arthroscopy. Accessed August 5, 2019.

Knee ligament repair. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/knee-ligament-repair. Accessed August 5, 2019.

LCL injury & posterolateral corner injury. Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush website. Available at: https://sportssurgerychicago.com/lcl-posterolateral-corner-injury-westchester-oakbrook-hinsdale-il. Accessed August 5, 2019.

Moatshe G, Dean CS, Chahla J, Serra Cruz R, LaPrade RF. Anatomic fibular collateral ligament reconstruction. Arthrosc Tech. 2016;5(2):e304-e319.

Revision Information