Injuries to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) of the knee are complex, and require expertise to both diagnose and treat. The areas associated with the “ posterolateral corner ” of the knee include the popliteus tendon, the popliteofibular ligament, the posterolateral capsule, and the LCL. The diagnosis of the exact injury and related structure(s) will require a detailed patient history and physical examination, along with imaging studies.
Isolated injuries to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are rare. These injuries usually occur in association with an ACL or PCL injury. In fact, a cause of failure for an ACL reconstruction can be associated with an untreated LCL. Your physician will determine if the LCL will require a repair or a reconstruction using a graft or multiple grafts. If LCL surgery is necessary, and additional knee surgery is also required, your physician may fix everything at one time.
During reconstructive surgery, your physician will use an arthroscopic technique which will consist of a small camera and tiny surgical tools to enter the knee joint so that the inside of the knee can be evaluated and treated. However, the LCL and PLC are on the outside of the knee joint, so open surgery is also required to treat both. During reconstructive surgery, one or more grafts will be used in order to reconstruct the damaged LCL, popliteus tendon, and /or popliteofibular ligament. Several surgical treatment options may be considered depending on the pattern and degree of injury.
Following reconstructive surgery, protection of the knee and graft is critical. Weight bearing will be restricted at first, and therapy will be a supervised, and progressive process. The patient and therapist will work under the guidance of your physician with a goal of achieving full recovery and return to activity in 6 to 9 months.