LATERAL COLLATERAL LIGAMENT (LCL) RECONSTRUCTION
The lateral collateral ligament (LCL), also called the fibular collateral ligament (FCL), is one of the four major ligaments in the knee. The LCL runs from the end of the femur (thigh bone) down to the top of the fibula bone on the outside of the knee. Similar to the MCL, the LCL provides stability to the knee in the frontal plane.
Most patients with Grade III LCL strains (complete tear) require surgery. The goal of LCL surgery is to stabilize the knee by preventing abnormal gapping and rotation on the outside of the knee (varus instability). The most reliable way to restore stability is to use a graft (healthy tissue from another location) to reconstruct the LCL. During surgery, Dr. Welch makes an incision on the outside of the knee and identifies the spots on the femur bone and fibula bone where the torn ligament should attach. Dr. Welch makes small bone tunnels at the appropriate positions on the femur and fibula bones. The donor tissue is then passed into the tunnels, placed under appropriate tension, and secured to the tunnels with medical screws.
Dr. Welch recommends crutches and non weight-bearing on the affected leg for six weeks following surgery. Dr. Welch also recommends intermittent icing, straight leg raises for quad strength, and starting a dedicated physical therapy protocol 1-2 weeks after surgery. Physical therapy focuses on reducing swelling in the knee, range of motion, and strengthening of muscles in the affected limb. Dr. Welch recommends advancing the physical therapy program to cutting, pivoting, and sport-specific activities only after the patient has achieved certain goals (usually 4-5 months after surgery). Most patients can return to competitive sports approximately six months after surgery. It is very important to follow the rehabilitation process carefully to achieve the best outcome.