Rebuilding an ACL

The Giants announced Tuesday that their star tight end Jake Ballard tore his anterior cruciate ligament or ACL, in the second half of the Super Bowl last Sunday. An MRI revealed the injury, which means surgery and rehabilitation for Ballard that is likely to run into next season.

A torn ACL is one of the most common knee injuries in the United States. Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of, said U.S. doctors see more than 95,000 tears every year, and most require arthroscopic knee surgery to be repaired.

Before beginning, the patient will receive either spinal anesthesia that will numb your body from the chest down, or general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep for the duration of the procedure.

The surgeon will make a few incisions around the knee, inserting surgical instruments, including a tiny camera that will allow the surgeon to see what he or she is doing on a TV monitor.

After removing the remaining parts of the torn ACL, the surgeon will removes part of the patellar tendon to use for the graft. Then, attachment points are created by drilling a small tunnel in the tibia and the femur.

One end of the patellar tendon graft is placed in the tibial tunnel and pulled through the knee joint into the femoral tunnel, creating a new ACL tendon.

In the last step, screws are placed at the ends of the new ACL to hold it in place. The whole procedure typically lasts two hours.

Bone growth will fill in these tunnels over the next eight weeks and add more stability. You will need physical therapy, and it may take up to six months for the knee to regain full strength.