ACL Injury

An ACL injury is one of the most common serious knee injuries and involves a complete tear or rupture to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). The human knee is vulnerable to injury because it connects two very long bones, the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). These two long levers can exert incredible force at the knee joint.

Dr. David Colvin, orthopaedic surgeon in Perth. David's specialty is knee and shoulder surgery and sports injuries.

ACL injury

What is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament?

The ACL is a tough, rope like ligament that connects and stabilises the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It is about four centimetres long and as thick as a pencil. A functioning ACL is critical to knee stability.

The knee joint is held together by four major ligaments. There’s one ligament down each side of the knee - the Medial Collateral Ligament on the inside, and the Lateral Collateral Ligament on the outside. Then there are two major ligaments in the middle of the knee that cross over from front to back. These are the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, which stops the tibia moving forward, and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament which stops the tibia from moving backwards.

The cruciate ligaments also have a significant role in controlling the rotation of the knee. For that reason, it is often a rotational injury such as cutting and changing the direction that causes the ACL to tear.

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What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?

The ACL is a very strong ligament, and many people hear and feel a pop from the knee as the ‘rope’ snaps.

Other ACL injury symptoms include:

  • Severe knee swelling within the first twenty-four hours. This usually indicates bleeding into the knee.
  • Stiffness preventing you from fully straightening or fully bending the knee.
  • A feeling of insecurity in the knee. It may give way, particularly with change of direction activities.
ACL injury

Surgery for an ACL injury

A torn ACL cannot heal by itself. The torn ends of the ligament look like the bristles of a paintbrush, and they are floating around in synovial fluid that fills the knee joint. The ends rapidly shrink into a small stump. For the same reason, it is not usually feasible to repair or reattach a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament. ACL surgery involves reconstruction by an orthopaedic surgeon; where we make a new ligament using a graft. That graft can be one of your ligaments, tendons, or an artificial ligament. The artificial ligament is called a LARS graft.

Have you damaged your ACL?

As an experienced orthopaedic surgeon who has helped many Perth patients with ACL injuries, Dr Colvin can advise you on your knee reconstruction surgery at your appointment. He will discuss with you the best graft choice for your particular injury and your sporting requirements. Call our practice to book an appointment.


ACL injury

In the field of shoulder and knee reconstruction, successful outcomes from an operation are 50% surgery and 50% rehabilitation. You could say the surgery is the easy bit, the rehabilitation is all hard slog. Dr Colvin’s CO.RE exercise programs are just that, a core plan for your successful recovery.

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ACL Reconstruction

The aim of ACL reconstruction surgery is to stabilise your knee joint. A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament can’t heal by itself and causes knee joint instability and a feeling of giving way or insecurity. Longstanding knee joint instability causes further damage to the knee cartilage and may cause a torn meniscus.
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ACL Graft Choices

Once the decision has been made that cruciate ligament reconstruction is required, most people want to talk about the choice of graft. My first advice in this regard is, do not stress too much about the choice in graft as there are many other factors that will have much greater bearing on the success of surgery.
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ACL Reconstruction FAQ

If you suffer from an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee, you may have questions about the ACL tear and the surgery you need. I have created a page listing some of the most frequently asked questions about ACL reconstruction.

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Consulting Rooms

Dr David Colvin consults at:
Western Orthopaedic Clinic Suite 213,
25 McCourt Street,
Subiaco WA 6008 (Perth)

  • These rooms are part of St John of God Subiaco Hospital.
  • Parking is available on site.


Dr David Colvin operates at:
St John of God Subiaco Hospital
Salvado Road,
Subiaco WA 6008 (Perth)