Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury | Overview

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If your child has an ACL injury, you may have many concerns and questions. It may comfort you to know that caregivers at Boston Children's Hospital offer a wealth of experience treating children, teens and young adults with ACL tears.

We’re leaders in ACL research and pioneers in the development of ACL reconstruction techniques tailored to the patient’s age and musculoskeletal maturity. Our multidisciplinary ACL team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, athletic trainers, psychologists and nutritionists, ensuring the best possible care and a safe return to sports. We’re here to answer your questions and to support you and your family every step of the way with fast and coordinated access to care.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament ACL Injury What is the ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four main ligaments in the knee. It provides stability for the knee joint, particularly during cutting and pivoting activities common in sports.

What is an ACL tear?

The most common type of pediatric ACL injury is a complete tear of the ACL. Usually, surgery is indicated for these injuries. Surgical options for youth, teens and young adults vary by the patient’s age and musculoskeletal maturity.

What is ACL surgery?

Conventional ACL surgery requires the surgeon to drill tunnels through the bones on either side of the knee joint and replace the torn ACL with a tendon graft, usually from the patient’s own body hamstring or patellar tendon.

In children and adolescents, however, these areas of bone may have working growth plates that produce new bone tissue and are responsible for bone growth. If growth plates are damaged during surgery, the bone may not grow properly. Limiting damage to the growth plate is critical for patients who have not finished growing (which usually occurs between 14 to 16 years for girls, and 15 to 17 years for boys). Conventional ACL surgery is not a good option for growing patients.

Boston Children’s orthopedic surgeons are experts in growth-plate sparing ACL surgical techniques.

Recovering from an ACL injury

Every year, more than 400,000 ACL tears occur, and most athletes return to their sports. You, too, can follow in the footsteps of athletes like Brandi Chastain and Tom Brady who have conquered an ACL tear.

Treating athletes with ACL tears is the heart of what our ACL Program team does every day. Our orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine doctors, physician assistants, athletic trainers and sports psychologists are with you every step of the way. We are committed to helping you get back to your sport and working with you to prevent other injuries.

Download a copy of the ACL injury to recovery journey to learn more.

ACL Injury to Recovery

In the News

A Boston Surgeon May Have Just Revolutionized How ACL Injuries Affect Athletes
Gronk Nation, April 27, 2016

A new procedure could revolutionize ACL repairs
The Boston Globe
, March 23, 2016

A Potential Breakthrough in ACL Surgery
The Wall Street Journal
, March 23, 2016

Click to see more about ACL in the news...

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