Understanding the Revascularization Phase After ACL Reconstruction Surgery: What You Need to Know

After ACL reconstruction surgery, the body goes through a healing process that includes a phase called revascularization. During this phase, the body forms new blood vessels in the graft used to reconstruct the damaged ACL. This helps to provide nutrients and oxygen to the graft, which is important for its successful integration into the body.

The revascularization phase typically starts around the fourth week after surgery and continues for up to 12 weeks. During this time, there is an increase in cellular activity and changes in the extracellular matrix, which leads to the lowest mechanical properties of the reconstructed ACL graft. The graft necrosis releases growth factors that stimulate cell migration, proliferation, and extracellular matrix synthesis, which results in revascularization of the graft.

During the first few weeks of the revascularization phase, patients will work on gentle range of motion exercises to keep their knee mobile and reduce swelling. They should avoid high-impact activities, such as running or jumping, and follow their rehabilitation plan closely to avoid re-injury or complications that could require additional surgeries and prolonged rehabilitation.

As the revascularization phase progresses, the physical therapist will gradually introduce more challenging exercises and activities into the rehabilitation program. Patients may also begin to work on strength training exercises to help rebuild muscle around the knee.

It’s important to be patient during the revascularization phase and not rush the healing process. Patients should follow their physical therapist’s instructions carefully and communicate any concerns or questions they may have about their rehabilitation plan.

At Vertex, we specialize in ACL rehabilitation and have years of experience helping patients recover from ACL injuries. Our team of physical therapists will work closely with you to create an individualized rehabilitation plan that is tailored to your needs and goals. We’ll guide you through each phase of the rehabilitation process, including the revascularization phase, to help you achieve a safe and successful recovery.

In conclusion, the revascularization phase is an important part of ACL rehabilitation that requires patience and adherence to a rehabilitation plan. At Vertex, we are here to help guide you through each step of the rehabilitation process and ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.

Sawyer GA, Anderson BC, Christiansen BA. The Revascularization Phase of Tendon and Ligament Healing and its Relationship with Fibrosis. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2021 Feb 10;23(3):16. doi: 10.1007/s11926-021-00972-y. PMID: 33566233.

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