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Will my replacement ACL be as good as the original one?

The answer to this question is a bit complicated. From a functional point of view, we can say that many athletes who have torn their ACL, and have opted for a surgical reconstruction and rehabilitation, have returned to their sports, won national championships, won Olympic gold medals, and enjoyed long professional careers. Most people who are recreational athletes are also very satisfied with the results of knee surgery and find that they can continue doing all of the things that they like to do after the surgery and rehabilitation. From this point of view, the function of the knee is nearly completely restored by reconstructive surgery.

However, from a scientific point of view, it is clear that a replacement ACL does not function as well as the original ligament. This is because the original ligament has special nerve fibers that provide each person with a sense of the position of his or her joint. This function is not replaced when a new ligament is used to reconstruct the original one. The native ACL also has special properties that allow it to stretch and relax, and it has a complicated arrangement of individual fibers that perfectly balance the tension in the ligament during flexion and extension of the knee. These properties are also not completely restored when the ligament is replaced. This is why most patients can always tell the difference between which knee was injured and which one wasn't, even many years after their surgery.

Surveys of patients have indicated that in the long run, nearly ninety percent of people who have had ACL surgery say that they are very glad that they had it done, and would choose to have it done again.



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