25 Questions to Ask Your ACL Surgeon before acl surgery

25 Questions to Ask Your ACL Surgeon before acl surgery

When you go in to visit your surgeon, ask them about what your options are to help you to continue doing the things you love.
— Dr. Sterett

When you visit your orthopedic surgeon, the goal is threefold. Number one, we want to restore you to “normal” functioning. Number two, we want to get you pain-free. And number three, we want to ensure that you get back to doing the things that you love on a consistent basis. 

This third point refers to something I like to call “Activity Preservation.”  In the past, the major focus was on the first two goals, but more and more I am dealing with people who come to me and say “Doc, I really want to get back to playing a high level of basketball, how can we make that happen,” or (often in my case) “I’m a world-class skier and I need to get back to those heights.” 

So (at least in my practice), we're trying to lead the process with a focus on Activity Preservation. I want you to be able to return to the lifestyle you enjoyed pre-injury, while still having as little pain as possible. So, when you go in to visit your surgeon, ask them about what your options are to help you to continue doing the things you love.

(Here's a little video explaining the concept):

The Tegner Score

Because of the new focus on Activity Preservation, we’ve started using the Tegner Scoring System to evaluate up front what type of activity preservation you want to do. 

The Tegner scale is basically a form that lists the "level" of activity that you want to be at.  Based on that, we can ascertain what the best treatment plan of action for you is.

Download your Tegner Score sheet here...


This is a long list to remember, so jot the questions down in a notebook or in your cellphone notes program and bring it with you when you discuss with your orthopedic surgeon.
— Dr. Sterett

Keeping that in mind, here are 25 general questions to ask your orthopedic surgeon before the surgery, courtesy of the AOSS:*

(I've also included a couple of videos in here that answer some of the more common questions that I receive, at the bottom of the page.)

Basic Questions for ACL Surgery

  1. Why is this procedure being recommended?

  2. Are there alternatives?

  3. What are the benefits of this procedure in terms of: pain relief, functioning/mobility?

  4. How long will the benefit last?


Video: what does an acl tear feel like?

What does an ACL Tear feel like? Initial pain and swelling, followed by Instability of the knee.

risk factor questions for acl surgery

  1. What are the risks involved for this prodedure?

  2. What is the normal success rate for this procedure?

technical questions for acl surgery

  1. What is this particular procedure called?

  2. How is the procedure done?

  3. Will this surgery solve the problem?

  4. Will any more surgery be required in the future?

  5. Is this a procedure that is performed often at this hospital? If so, how often?

  6. What kind of anesthesia will be used?

  7. Will I meet with the anesthesiologist in advance? How will he or she know my needs/allergies?


Video: Does an ACL Tear Heal without surgery?


outcome questions for your acl surgery

  1. What % of patients have a marked improvement after the procedure?

  2. What's the outcome if I don't have the surgery at this time?

  3. Who can I consult for a second opinion?

  4. Are there any materials about this surgery that I can review?

  5. Will I need any tests or medical evaluations prior to the surgery?

  6. If pertinent, what kind of implant or prosthesis will be used? What are the outcomes using this device? How long will it last?

  7. Are there possible after effects or additional risks?

  8. Will I have any pain after the procedure?

  9. What pain relief or pain control measures will I be given?


ACL Surgery Video: ACL Repair or ACL Reconstruction?

ACL Repair keeps the native ligament, while an ACL Reconstruction completey replaces the native ligament with an allograft or autograft.

ACL Surgery Recovery Questions

  1. How long will the recovery take? What are my limitations during recovery? Will I need assistance at home afterwards? For how long? What will discharge instructions be? Will I have any disability following surgery?

  2. Will I need physical therapy?

  3. When can I return to work? When can I drive my car?

This is a long list to remember, so jot the questions down in a notebook or in your cellphone notes program and bring it with you when you discuss with your orthopedic surgeon.

Here are the videos I promised...


*Source: orthoinfo.aoss.org

What Are The Odds and Risks of Re-Tearing My ACL on the Same Knee After Surgery?

What Are The Odds and Risks of Re-Tearing My ACL on the Same Knee After Surgery?

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What Are the Most Frequent Skier and Snowboarder Injuries? (Statistics Info-Graphic)