A Torn ACL By Any Other Name

For Immediate Release

A Torn ACL By Any Other Name
A Knee Slow to Swell May Still Require Orthopaedic Surgery

At first glance, after hearing a distinctive “pop” in her knee during the championship game for her women’s recreational soccer league, Kristin SanGiacomo thought she might have just sprained something. The 36-year-old Avon, Connecticut insurance executive had played long enough to realize there might have been a serious injury; however, having never injured her knee before and the ability to get up on her own and walk around the bench cheering her team on, led her to believe she might be okay.

“My first reaction was oh my god, this is not good,” she said. “But I didn’t have any of the stereotypical symptoms, my knee didn’t swell horribly. I was able to get up and walk on it slightly. I was convinced with a little rest it would be fine.”

Twenty-four hours later her symptoms got worse. Swelling set in and her knee hurt. SanGiacomo was scheduled to travel the next morning for work. “I was smart enough to realize traveling was a bad idea,” she said.

An initial examination by a local orthopaedist, along with an MRI, provided a diagnosis of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The ACL is one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee. Most injuries occur in the young, athletic population. The ACL is injured when it sustains a force that exceeds the strength of the ligament. This may result from a non-contact injury (landing awkwardly, cutting or changing direction), or in the case of SanGiacomo, abrupt movement on an uneven outdoor field. The risk of ACL injury is highest in sports that require pivoting, jumping, cutting or a rapid change of direction (soccer, for example).

“I was presented some surgical options by several orthopaedists, but they all revolved around a hamstring technique, which over time might not hold up. I wanted a different option that would make it in the long run. I wanted to continue playing soccer. I was referred to Dr. Plancher.”

Dr. Kevin Plancher, a renowned Connecticut orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist and head of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Greenwich, Connecticut recommended an aligraph option, one that would use a patella bone from a cadaver.

Dr. Plancher performed a minimally invasive ACL surgical repair at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut. “The surgery went very well,” said SanGiacomo. “It was an early morning surgery, starting around 7 a.m. I left the hospital by mid-afternoon.”

According to SanGiacomo, the orthopaedists she consulted before Dr. Plancher did not specialize in the aligraph technique and did not have access to a cadaver. “Dr. Plancher was the only orthopaedist I spoke with who had that option available,” she said.

Currently six months out post-surgery, SanGiacomo is receiving physical therapy and counting the days until returning to the soccer field. “Dr. Plancher doesn’t recommend any contact sport before nine months,” she said. “I plan to return to soccer for the fall season.”

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