Is Surgery Right For Me?


Ruptured ACL

Full Physical & Mental Rehab can take up to a year, but gives a lifetime of Sporting fun!

Key Questions to Ask Your Surgeon


There are many questions that will arise through your rehab, depending upon your specific situation.  This list provides an overview of some of the key questions you might not immediately think to ask a prospective surgeon:

  1. Is surgery the right option for my specific circumstances?  What are my alternatives?

  2. Which graft options for an ACL reconstruction are best for me?  The US Military Academy noted a much higher failure rate of allographs versus autographs, 2 years post surgery.  Usually both patellar tendon autografts and hamstring autografts are good options for athletes.

  3. What is the success rate for the procedure recommended for me?

  4. What are the benefits of this procedure in terms of pain relief, functioning and mobility?

  5. How long will the benefit last? 

  6. What are the risks involved? 

  7. What is the procedure called? How is it done? 

  8. How many of these procedures are annually performed at this hospital?  How many and frequently do you (the surgeon) perform?

  9. What percentage of patients improve following the procedure? 

  10. What will happen if I don't have the surgery now? 

  11. If I want a second opinion, who can I consult?

  12. What kind of anesthesia will be used? Are there possible after effects or risks? Will I meet with the anesthesiologist in advance? Will he or she know my needs and allergies?

  13. Can I avoid a blood transfusion or if needed during surgery, what are the safeguards?

  14. Will I have pain following the procedure? What pain relief or pain control measures will I be given? 

  15. How long will the recovery take? What are my limitations during recovery? Will I need assistance at home afterwards? For how long? What will the discharge instructions be?

  16. Will I have any disability following surgery? Will I need physical therapy? 

  17. What types of complications might occur after surgery?  How will I recognise them?

  18. When can I return to work? When can I drive my car? When can I have sexual activity?

  19. Are there any materials about this surgery that I can review?

Discuss with Your Doctor

The first step with any injury that does not resolve with RICE is to visit your doctor or hospital.  Your health professional will run physical tests and advise of next steps and the likely options open to you. Knee surgery is typically considered as elective surgery i.e. surgery (non-medical emergency), so it can be scheduled in advance.  Depending on your local medical system your path to surgery can be quite challenging and time consuming (oten taking months).  Obtaining an MRI and then getting onto an appropriate surgeons' wait list can be a complicated medical process to navigate.  Becoming your own best advocate is essential.

Find a Surgeon

ACL surgery is extremely technical. Most surgeries are carried our arthoscopically. Small incisions are made to place a camera, the size of a pencil, inside your knee joint and the procedure is managed from a screen.  This process minimalises scaring to the knee. A millimeter difference here or there can have a huge impact on the result. The procedure is something that needs to be performed by an experienced sports orthopedist. You need someone who performs the surgery two or three times a week rather than two or three times a year, someone who's familiar with the injury, its mechanism, and the demands when you return.  Do your research and ask questions so you feel comfortable with the surgeon that will manage your procedure.

Prepare for Success

Becoming a better athlete or sports enthusiast requires practice.  Take the same approach to your recovery. Think through what will be required in advance to provide you with the best outcome, from planning your diet,  to purchasing or borrowing the right exercise equipment to the set up of your home, such as preparing your bed or sofa with cushions and everything your need within easy reach.  Ensure you:

  • Educate yourself on the rehab process and connect with a good physio

  • Understand the surgical procedure and expected recovery path

  • Notify friends, family and colleagues of all the things you will need for your surgery and expected abscence from activities

  • Prepare in advance all of the things you will need such as reading material, pain medication, a method to waterproof your knee for bathing etc.


Build Your Support Team

Friends and family often want to help, but just don't know how.  Getting used to asking for and accepting help as you rehab will make your recovery significantly easier.  This can be hard as an athlete used to doing everthing for yourself. Your support team are all the people that contribute to your recovery, from your health advisors to friends that can give you a lift when you are unable to drive, or drop off a meal when it's hard to be on your feet. Planning in advance and identify who, what, when and how each person can help will not only speed everything up, but also significantly help your mental state.