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ACL Reconstruction for Pediatric Patients at Tampa General Hospital

ACL reconstruction is a well-known term among youth athletes. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the strongest ligament in the knee, runs diagonally through the knee and prevents the tibia from moving in front of the femur. Movements such as sudden changes of direction, stopping quickly, or landing awkwardly can put extreme strain on the ACL, resulting in a tear. There is often a loud “popping” noise when the injury occurs, followed by intense pain and swelling of the area, and knee instability.

Though the reason is still being debated, some studies have found that girls are seven times more likely than boys to suffer an ACL tear and need to undergo an ACL reconstruction procedure. While this type of injury can occur during any kind of physical activity, some of the sports that see the highest rates of youth ACL injuries include:

  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Baseball and softball
  • Football
  • Tennis

What Does ACL Reconstruction Involve?

Because the ACL can’t heal itself like many other ligaments in the body, a rupture requires an ACL reconstruction procedure to return the knee to normal. This minimally invasive outpatient procedure reconstructs the damaged ligament by replacing it with a tissue graft from the patient’s injured leg, usually using a hamstring tendon. Donor tissue is an option for the graft, but a tendon from another part of the patient’s body is less likely to rupture in the future. Once the procedure is completed, extensive physical therapy will be required before the individual can return to normal activity. Recovery time can range from six months to as long as a year following an ACL reconstruction procedure.

Tampa General Hospital’s Children's Medical Center physicians are leaders in providing advanced youth sports medicine treatment procedures, including ACL reconstruction surgery. Our highly experienced pediatric orthopedic professionals offer collaborative care designed to help our patients lead healthier and happier lives. To find a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, use our Physician Finder.