Knee Dislocation – Multi-Ligament Knee Injuries

Ligaments are the fibrous tissue bands connecting the bones in the joint and stabilizing the joint. Knee joint has 2 sets of ligaments–collateral ligaments (medial and collateral ligaments) that connect the bones on outer side of the knee and cruciate ligaments (anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament) that present inside the joint. Multi-ligament injury is the injury to multiple ligaments at the same time. Damage to three or more ligaments may cause joint dislocation.

Multi-ligament injuries occur as a result of major trauma such as a direct blow to the knee, or a fall from a height, or motor vehicle trauma.

Patients with multi-ligament knee injuries may experience pain, swelling, limited range of motion, injuries to nerves and arteries of the leg, and knee instability.

Most multi-ligament knee injuries require surgery to reconstruct ligaments. This serious and complex injury may require more than one surgical procedure to stabilize the knee. The overall recovery can take 1-2 years. Ligaments are reconstructed using a graft taken from the patient, or from donor tissue to create a new ligament. Surgical reconstruction is usually performed using arthroscope, during which tunnels are created in the thigh and tibia bone using a small drill to allow the grafts to be placed into the knee and to replace the torn ligaments. After the grafts are placed, screws, washers, and other fixation devices are used to secure the grafts in place and to help hold the ligament in place until healing takes place. After multi-ligament knee reconstruction, crutches may be required for 6 to 8 weeks.

Following multi-ligament knee reconstruction, the most common complications include recurrent instability, stiffness, loss of motion, scar tissue formation, and injury to nerves and blood vessels.