ACL Surgery

ACL SurgeryThis ACL Surgery site provides real, unbiased, useful information about cost, recovery time, rehab, insurance issues, choosing a surgeon, and most everything related to making the decision of having ACL surgery.

It was created by people who actually had ACL surgery (anterior cruciate ligament)¬†and needed more details to help make a more informed decision. Learn from the mistakes and successes of others and enjoy your visit! Now, scroll down to view the 8 key steps BEFORE having ACL surgery…

8 Key Steps Before Having ACL Surgery:

  1. Talk to a doctor
  2. Get an xray and MRI
  3. Rehab/strengthen the knee as much as possible (pre-surgery)
  4. Choose the type of ACL surgery you want (graft and fixation choice)
  5. Choose a doctor
  6. Get billing codes from your doctor for each specific component of the surgery, approx hours in surgery, location (address), and get their estimate of costs assuming you had no insurance.
  7. Have a thorough conversation with your health insurance company (if you have one) to learn how much % your insurance will cover you. Fully document the questions, answers and conversation.
  8. Now that you have cost information, you are able to make an informed decision on whether or not to have the surgery.

Important Note: there’s no risk in waiting if you are careful. The surgery itself won’t be more or less successful if you wait 5 – 10 years. The only risk is if you try to do sports or activity on an unstable knee and injure it worse. Some people, through lots of strengthening of surrounding muscles are able to compensate for the vulnerability and not have the surgery.

If you do have surgery, wait at least 6 months after your incident. The reason is that the knee sometimes takes months for swelling to go down, for full range of motion to return, and to re-strengthen the muscles. You don’t want surgery if you are still healing from the incident. When in doubt, postpone.

If this is the kind of advice you’re looking for, check out the ACL Surgery Cheat Sheet. It has everything you need to know about your ACL surgery options and could save you hours of research.

Choosing a Doctor for ACL Surgery

Choosing a Doctor for ACL SurgeryChoosing your doctor (the surgeon) for your ACL surgery is in important step in the process. It can be overwhelming trying to decide who you should put your trust (and money) in for this once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) surgical procedure. You will likely work hard in pre and post-rehab and the last thing you want to do is choose some bozo doctor who is inexperienced and does a mediocre job. There are horror stories out there and you don’t want that to be you! You only have one set of knees and you want them to last for your lifetime. So, how do you decide who to choose? I assume you live near a city that has a variety of doctors to choose from. So, assuming you have a large pool to select from, the most important step is narrowing it down to the right person. Below are a few ways you can narrow down the prospects.

Narrow down by graft or fixation type
Doctors tend to have distinct areas of expertise and tend to do procedures they’re comfortable with. It’s uncommon for a surgeon to perform both patellar grafts and hamstring grafts, for example, it’s normally one or the other. So, when you choose your doctor, it essentially decides what type of graft and fixation technique. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you have already chosen what graft you want first. This will then narrow down prospective surgeons.

Narrow down by location
Another way to narrow it down is by location. How important is it that you have the surgery as close to where you live as possible? On surgery day, you’ll need to have someone drop you off and give you a ride back. It may not be feasible for some to drive 2 hours or more to a big city. So, this may limit the pool of surgeons as well.

Narrow down by expertise
You can narrow surgeons down by expertise as well. Make sure they are board certified with the state and have all the normal credentials. Maybe the surgeon has a few feathers in his cap from special research or techniques he or she has pioneered. Some people want reputable surgeons that are on-staff surgeon for a professional or college sports team. Pro sports teams likely would do extensive research and choose only the best surgeon for their team, so you could piggyback off their selection criteria.

Narrow down by reputation (websites)
Another option is to search for a doctor’s reputation online. Several sites exist, but there are none that are 100% adopted by everyone yet. You probably want to avoid sites like angieslist that require payment upfront and have no guarantee of any kind of useful content. The best site for the time being seems to be: http://www.healthgrades.com Go there, type in a doctor’s name and see if it has any info.

Narrow down by choosing ‘preferred providers’
Your health insurance company may have a preferred providers list on its website that are guaranteed to successfully process payments through your insurance company. This is an important step as you don’t want to risk having the surgery and find out the provider is ‘out of network’ because of some technicality, forcing you to spend thousands more dollars.

Hopefully this list helps you fine tune your list of candidates for performing your ACL surgery. If you have additional criteria that helped you decide, please share below in the comments.

Patellar vs Hamstring

Patella vs Hamstring for ACL sugeryChoosing between patella vs hamstring as a graft for ACL surgery can be a difficult decision. At a glance the options seem fairly balanced, with pros and cons on either side, but our two polls have shown a slight leaning toward hamstring graft. Below is what people commonly say among the choices:

Read more about Patella vs Hamstring