Bones Home > Blood Clots and ACL Surgery

A potential complication of many surgeries is the development of blood clots, and ACL surgery also poses this risk. Your blood normally clots to help stop bleeding, but if a clot breaks away and gets stuck in blood vessels in your body, it could be dangerous. After ACL surgery, blood clots can form in the leg. This often occurs when there are blockages from fatty buildup in the arteries.

Blood Clots and ACL Surgery: An Overview

Every time you have a cut or bruise, whether inside or outside your body, your blood clots to help stop the bleeding so that you don't lose too much blood.
Sometimes, however, blood clots can harm you rather than help you. A blood clot can be dangerous if it breaks away and gets stuck in blood vessels in your body. When a blood clot gets stuck in an artery or vein, it can block the flow of blood.
After ACL surgery, one place that blood clots can form is in the leg. This is more likely in patients who have blockages from fatty buildup in the arteries of their legs. When a clot blocks blood flow in an artery, tissue in the leg may not get enough blood and oxygen, and may become damaged or even die. In rare cases, the leg may need to be amputated. Clots that form in the arteries are called arterial clots.
Another kind of blood clot forms in the veins of the leg. This is called deep venous thrombosis, and it can occur following many types of surgical procedures, including ACL reconstruction. In rare cases, these clots can migrate from your leg to your lung, where they may cause shortness of breath. If this happens, it is usually treated with blood-thinning medications.
You should let your surgeon know if you have ever had blood clots in your legs so that the appropriate steps can be taken to help prevent this complication.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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