Complications are not common but can occur. Prior to making the decision of have this operation. It is important you understand these so you can make an informed decision on the advantages and disadvantages of surgery.
These can be Medical (Anaesthetic) complications and surgical complications
MEDICAL (ANAESTHETIC) COMPLICATIONS
Medical complications include those of the anaesthetic and your general well being. Almost any medical condition can occur so this list is not complete. Complications include
ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO MEDICATIONS
Blood loss requiring transfusion with its low risk of disease transmission Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, pneumonia, bladder infections. Complications from nerve blocks such as infection or nerve damage. Serious medical problems can lead to ongoing health concerns, prolonged hospitalization. The following is a list of surgical complications. These are all rare but can occur. Most are treatable and do not lead to long term problems.
Approximately 1 in 200. Treatment involves either oral or antibiotics through the drip, or rarely further surgery to wash the infection out.
DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
These are clots in the veins of the leg. If they occur you may need blood thinning medication in the form of injections or tablets. Very rarely they can travel to the lung (Pulmonary Embolus) which can cause breathing difficulties or even death.
EXCESSIVE SWELLING & BRUISING
This is due to bleeding in the soft tissues and will settle with time.
Can result from scar tissue within the joint, and is minimized by advances in surgical technique and rapid rehabilitation. Full range of movements cannot always be guaranteed.
The graft can fail the same as a normal cruciate ligament does. Failure rate is approximately 5%. If the graft stretches or ruptures it can still be revised if required by using tendons from the other leg.
DAMAGE TO NERVES OR VESSELS
These are small nerves under the skin which cannot be avoided and cutting then leads to areas of numbness in the leg. This normally reduces in size over time and does not cause any functional problems with the knee. Very rarely there can be damage to more important nerves or vessels causing weakness in the leg.
All grafts need to be fixed to the bone using various devices (hardware) such as screws or staples. These can cause irritation of the wound and may require removal once the graft has grown into the bone.
DONOR SITE PROBLEMS
Donor site means where the graft is taken from. In general either the hamstrings or patella tendon are used. These can be pain or swelling in these areas which usually resolves over time.
Can occur especially if there is damage to other structures inside the knee.
REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY
An extremely rare condition that is not entirely understood, which can cause unexplained and excessive pain.