The lateral collateral ligament (LCL), otherwise known as the fibular collateral ligament (FCL), helps control sideways motion of the knee joint and protects the knee when it is put under stress in this direction. The LCL can become damaged during a fall or from sports activity, and many of these injuries are complex and require expertise to diagnose and treat. The LCL is part of the posterolateral corner (PLC), along with the posterolateral capsule, popliteofibular ligament and the popliteus tendon. When an injury occurs to these structures located on the outside of the knee, one or more of these soft tissues can experience extensive damage. Dr. Matthew Provencher, orthopedic knee surgeon in the greater Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado area, specializes in surgical LCL repair and posterolateral corner reconstruction following a complex knee injury to the outside of the joint.
In order for Dr. Provencher to diagnose and prepare a treatment plan for an LCL and/or PLC injury, he must perform a detailed physical examination, medical review and diagnostic tests. Treatment for an LCL injury may include conservative measures, however, if the LCL and/or PLC are severely injured, it may be necessary for Dr. Provencher to perform a surgical LCL repair and/or posterolateral corner reconstruction.
Dr. Provencher will determine if the surgical LCL repair requires a simple ligament repair or a reconstruction utilizing a graft or multiple grafts. If numerous structures on the outside of the knee are damaged, he will usually repair all structures at the same time with a posterolateral corner reconstruction.
Dr. Provencher will use an arthroscopic, minimally invasive approach to enter the knee and view the damaged ligament and other soft tissue structures in great detail. Since the LCL and the PLC are located on the outside of the knee joint, an open surgery procedure is commonly performed for the LCL repair and posterolateral corner reconstruction. One or more grafts, either an autograft or an allograft, will be utilized during the procedure to reconstruct the LCL, popliteofibular ligament, and/or popliteus tendon.
Recovery and Rehabilitation Following Surgical LCL Repair and Posterolateral Corner Reconstruction
Protection of the knee join and graft is critical following LCL repair and posterolateral corner reconstruction. Patients will be required to use crutches for six weeks in order to keep weight off the repaired knee. Dr. Provencher will prescribe a strict physical therapy program that is extremely important to overall success. The program typically begins immediately after the procedure, but range of motion exercises will not begin until two weeks after surgery. It is strongly suggested that patients work with the in-house physical therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine to optimize their rehabilitation. Dr. Provencher and his team will carefully monitor and guide each patient through the rehabilitation program. The goal is to achieve full function of the repaired joint and to return patients to normal activities in 6-9 months.
For additional resources on surgical LCL repair and posterolateral corner reconstruction, please contact Dr. Matthew Provencher, orthopedic knee surgeon in the greater Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado area.