ACL Surgery Specialist in Houston, TX

pictures of normal and torn ACL

Dr. Likover, a leading knee surgeon, performs arthroscopic ACL knee surgery in Houston to restore knee stability in patients with a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, the most common major ligamentous tear of the knee.

When a person tears their ACL, they usually say that the “knee popped out” or the “bone moved.” Subsequently, the injured person develops a swollen, painful knee because the ligament bleeds when it tears and fills the knee with blood.

Over a period of time, the blood disappears and the pain diminishes; the knee, however, remains unstable. The anterior cruciate ligament is a very important knee ligament for the stability of the knee. It is basically a “cable” or “rope,” and a tear of this ligament usually causes significant instability of the knee.

This instability can severely affect the future function of the knee joint for sports requiring changing direction and work activities requiring lifting, climbing, and straining. Once the knee becomes unstable as a result of ligamentous injury, the knee joint is much more prone to further injury, such as tearing one or both of the cartilages (menisci) and the development of loose bodies or arthritis over a period of time.

Overall, the knee has a tendency to deteriorate significantly if it remains unstable and the initial ligament injury is not treated properly.

Without ACL Surgery, 80% of Patients Develop Significant Secondary Problems

Orthopedists estimate that only about twenty percent of people who tear their anterior cruciate ligament and do not have surgical treatment do well over the years. Eighty percent of the people who tear their anterior cruciate ligament and who leave it untreated will develop significant secondary problems with their knee requiring various surgical procedures.

Secondary problems include the development of torn cartilages, loose bodies, arthritis, or a painful knee. Women tend to do worse with an untreated anterior cruciate ligament injury than do men.

ACL Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Recommended to Continue Playing Sports

If an individual is very active and wishes to continue playing vigorous sports and other high demand activities, then ACL reconstruction should be performed to restore knee stability. If one feels that his or her athletic career is near its end and they have become less active, then ACL surgery is not required.

Dr. Likover does not recommend continuing to play sports on an unstable knee, as it has been shown repeatedly that the knee will go on to develop multiple problems as a result of the instability.

Arthroscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction – The State Of The Art

Knee Model

Arthroscopic anterior cruciate reconstruction is a major advancement in the treatment of an acute or chronic tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. Since 1987, arthroscopic technology has advanced to allow for ligament reconstruction of the knee without cutting the knee open. Dr. Likover was one of the first orthopedists in Houston to perform this type of procedure, and since 1987 he has performed over 1,200 of these procedures.

At the time of surgery prior to reconstruction of the ligament, a complete diagnostic arthroscopy of the knee is performed. All other damage, including torn cartilages, bone chips, or any other problem within the knee, is repaired prior to ligament reconstruction.

Through the use of arthroscopy, a new anterior cruciate ligament can be made for the knee and be placed within the knee joint without making a large cut on the knee. A one-inch skin incision and three arthroscopy cuts are used to perform this operation.

The procedure, as developed by Dr. Likover, allows him to make small, pleasing cosmetic incisions. Drill holes are placed within the bone, and the new ligament is held in place with dissolving screws. The surgeon and patient have a choice of the material used to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament.

ACL replacement graft

The essence of the ACL operation is to replace the torn ACL ligament, which is not repairable, with a new ligament made out of material that can last a lifetime. At this point in time, human tissue is the only replacement tissue that has the potential to last this long.

For a first-time reconstruction of the ACL, most orthopedic surgeons in the United States treating high-level and professional athletes recommend using the patient’s own tissues for reconstructing the ligament.

For young, high-performance, aggressive athletes, Dr. Likover recommends using the patient’s middle third of the patellar tendon with bone on each end to make a new ACL ligament. This is known as a bone-patellar tendon-bone operation (BTB).

For recreational athletes of lower demand, Dr. Likover recommends the use of the hamstring tendons for the new ligament. The hamstring reconstruction is less painful with fewer potential complications, and probably an easier recovery.

However, he does not recommend a cadaver reconstruction (using a dead person’s tissue) for the reconstruction of the ACL for a person’s first ACL operation. Cadaver grafts have been shown to have a much higher failure rate than using one’s own tissue. 

This is especially true for younger patients age 30 and lower. Dr. Likover only performs cadaver grafts for a patient who has failed previous surgeries.

The arthroscopic technique for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction allows this procedure to be performed as an outpatient procedure.


Recovery after ACL Reconstruction Surgery

The patient may start riding a stationary bicycle or use a StairMaster less than one week following the surgery. Walking with weight bearing and the use of crutches is started immediately following the surgery. Gradually the patient adjusts to one crutch, and then is crutch-free, as tolerated.

Some individuals go to physical therapy after surgery; others do their own therapy. While it is not mandatory to go to a physical therapist, it is mandatory to exercise the knee regularly for a significant period of time following the procedure.

It generally takes six to nine months to fully rehabilitate the knee following this surgery. High-velocity contact sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, or downhill skiing are usually allowed at 9 months following the surgery. This delay in time gives the new ligament a chance to develop a new blood supply and become strong.

It is generally recommended that the patient wait two to four weeks following the initial injury of the knee before anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is performed. The reason for delaying surgery at least two weeks is to allow the soreness of the knee joint to go away and to allow the person to recover to a full range of motion before surgery is undertaken.

It has been shown that this waiting period makes rehabilitation from the surgery much easier and the results better.

Additionally, Dr. Likover recommends the use of a continuous passive motion machine (CPM) immediately following the surgery to recover range of motion to the knee. Most insurance companies cover the cost of home rental of the CPM.  If not, it can be rented through a medical equipment company.

Dr. Likover recommends Therapeutic Solutions at 281-922-5453. In addition, to obtain full bending of the knee with the CPM machine, the post-operative patient must work especially hard to regain full extension of the knee. If the full range of motion of the knee is achieved, the result of this type of surgery is excellent.

The 6 videos below depict an actual ACL surgery in Houston. The first video depicts Dr. Likover probing an ACL tear. The second video is shows the removal of the ACL and drilling a hole in the tibia. The next video is drilling a hole in the femur. The fourth video is pulling the new ACL graft, whether it be cadaver or the patient’s own tissue, up into the knee. The last video is securing the ACL with a screw that dissolves.

Probing a Torn ACL
Removing the Torn ACL with Shaver
Drilling Hole in Tibia
Drilling Femur
New ACL going into Knee
Securing the ACL with a Screw

Testimonial from E.Mike Spartalis, from Sugar Land, Texas

On March 7, 2012 I celebrated my 64th birthday. I am an active older guy (age is only a number) who lives vicariously through his sports, competition and my sons. Softball, tennis, skiing and especially Basketball have been my release, my therapy and my passions. If Basketball were a woman, I would be having an affair.

I thank my God for the ability to play these games and also for putting Dr. Larry Likover in my life. Over 20 years ago after suffering a torn ACL from skiing and two unsuccessful knee surgeries, I was faced with a future without my most precious therapeutic sports and passions.

Dr Likover was referred to me and after our initial visit, I knew this doctor’s bluntness, quickness to diagnose my situation, his history, his reputation as a great Knee surgeon and his passion for his profession was the person I needed. You could say he was “Exactly what the Doctor ordered” or in this case what God ordered.

I had the reconstruction surgery on my right knee and my history from that time to present has been multiple national and local championships in Softball, on going weekly Basketball games playing at a competitive level, skiing and active athletic challenges with my athletic sons.

I recently was awarded an “Athletic Spirit Award” from a local sports radio station for my achievements and continuous efforts to play the sports of my passions at this sobering age. I thought about what led me to this award and my thoughts focused on Dr. Likover’s success in repairing my knee. For this Lifetime passion that has not eluded me, I give thanks for a doctor who cared enough about whom I was and my passions. Although I did not make millions playing a sport, it was worth millions or let’s say priceless, to me to continue to play. To a dedicated professional who always takes his medical knowledge and his unique bedside manor to the next level, thank you Dr. Likover, you’re the best.

E. Mike Spartalis