CPT Code: 29888
Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACL reconstruction) is a surgical tissue graft replacement of the anterior cruciate ligament, located in the knee, to restore its function after anterior cruciate ligament injury. The torn ligament is removed from the knee before the graft is inserted through a hole created by a single hole punch. The surgery is performed arthroscopically.
An ACL reconstruction is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as an ACL repair. A torn anterior cruciate ligament cannot be “repaired”, and must instead be reconstructed with a tissue graft replacement.
Two alternative sources of replacement material for ACL reconstruction are commonly utilized:
- Autografts (employing bone or tissue harvested from the patient’s body), and
- Allografts (using bone or tissue from a donor’s body, typically a cadaver’s or a live donor).
Since the tissue is one’s own in an autograft the probability of rejection (sans infection) is minimal.
Sterilization and redundant donor screening process make allografts a generally safe choice for patients; however, risks remain. Irradiation of donor content to remove infectious agents potentially weakens the selected tendon, although for ACL surgery the weakened tendon is generally as strong as the replaced ligament. Infection may also require removal of the graft.
- Synthetic tissue tissue suitable to ACL reconstruction has also been developed. Few data exist on its strength or reliability.
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