My Journey Through MPFL Reconstruction Part 2 (The Procedure)

Above is an animated video of an MFPL Reconstruction, the procedure that I will be having in two days.  There are other videos of the actual live procedure, but no amount of Nip/Tuck episodes (who am I kidding, I’ve seen all 100!)  could prepare me for watching that!  If you are going through this surgery yourself and would like more info, here is a link to my Bum Knee  Pinterest board.

In case you’re like me and hate watching videos on the internet and would much rather read the info, I will explain the surgery in laymen’s terms.  The main problem in people with repeated patellar sublexations (kneecap dislocations) is that their Medial Patellofemoral Ligament has either snapped or has gotten extremely stretched out from the first (or subsequent) dislocations.  The MPFL helps keep the kneecap from slipping to the outside of the leg.  My MRI (oh Lord, that event calls for a whole separate blog post!) showed that my MPFL is still intact, but is severely stretched out from my four dislocations, and that I also have significant signs of wear and tear under/around my patella.  Most likely the ligament never fully snapped because my patella only remained “stuck” outside of its rightful place once, and by then the ligament was already very loose.

The reconstruction will entail my surgeon replacing my worn out ligament with one from a cadaver (yes, that freaks me out and puts so many more questions in my mind eg.:what if my donor was even more of a couch potato than I am?  What if my donor was a 100 year-old woman with arthritis?  Does this mean I will now be part zombie?)  He will drill through both my femur and my patella and then thread the “new” ligament through.  This will all be done arthroscopically, so I will only have three tiny incisions and one larger (about 2-3 inches) one.  The procedure will take around two hours, and I will be under general anesthesia (yes, this also freaks me out because I have NEVER been under anesthesia.)

Apparently this procedure has a much higher rate of success than the former-most-popular lateral release procedure.  As my previous post said, when I had my second injury my old surgeon told me that even if I had a lateral release there was still a pretty significant chance that I would continue to have sublexations.  Both of my surgeons have told me that this is not the case with the MPFL reconstruction.

After the surgery I will have to keep my knee straight for three weeks and be on crutches.  My surgeon says that I should be able to play any sports I want after about three months.  That sounds a bit too optimistic to me.  I would just like to be able to walk upstairs without waking the neighbors!  However, I must admit that a tiny part of me is daring to hope.  The thought of being able to be my old, athletic, active self again gives me butterflies (I know that’s soooo lame!)  I really had resigned myself to being pudgy and lethargic for the rest of my life, but now, just maybe, I don’t have to.


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