Posterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

What is a posterior ligament reconstruction?

A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a torn ligament. A portion of tissue from another part of the body or from a human donor is used as graft material. The posterior cruciate ligament is a ligament that is located inside the knee behind the anterior cruciate ligament. The PCL is responsible for connecting the femur to the tibia. The ligament also helps prevent the tibia from moving backwards in relation to the femur.

An injury to the PCL ligament is normally caused by a powerful force. Tears commonly occur after receiving a direct blow to the leg below the knee or right at the front of the knee. Posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction may be indicated for the following situations:

  • Sports accidents may lead to falling on your bent knee.
  • Car accidents, especially if the knee hits the dashboard.
  • Twisting or hyperextending the ligament in a fall or misstep.
  • Combined injuries, like if you have a dislocated knee or torn multiple ligaments, including the posterior cruciate ligament.
  • If you have an isolated posterior cruciate ligament tear

How does Dr van Niekerk perform the procedure?

During the procedure, Dr van Niekerk will make an incision on the knee to access the knee joint and the ligaments. He will then remove the torn PCL ligament and replace it with a tissue graft from your body or from another human donor. Holes will be drilled into the upper and lower bones of the leg. The graft will be passed through the holes and then fixed to the bone using endobuttons to securely hold the graft while the ligaments heal into the bone. After the procedure, the incisions will be stitched close.

What is recovery like?

After the procedure, a physical therapist will be recommended to help you regain knee strength and motion so that you can return to your daily activities. The recovery duration depends entirely on the severity of your condition. With combined injuries, recovery is normally slow. However, most patients recover well over time.


How long do PCL injuries take to heal?

PCL injury recovery time varies from person to person. If the injury is mild, it may take approximately ten days to heal. If a PCL operation was done to repair the injury, then recovery may take 6-9 months.

Can posterior cruciate ligament injuries be prevented?

It is difficult to prevent PCL injuries. However, there are things you may do to reduce the risk of PCL injuries, such as:

  • Implement proper walking or running techniques.
  • Always stretch before engaging in physical activity to keep your knee joints healthy.
  • Always remain alert and cautious when participating in sports activities.
What are the signs of PCL injuries?

Common signs include:

  • Stiffness
  • Pain that worsens gradually over time.
  • Swelling and inflammation.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Trouble going down the stairs.
  • A feeling of instability in the knee.