LCL/PLC Surgery

The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It is located on the outside (lateral side) of the knee and connects the femur to the fibula. It is part of a larger group of complex structures referred to as the posterolateral corner (PLC) that provide stability to the outside of the knee. Other important structures in the posterolateral corner are the iliotibial band (IT band), popliteus tendon, biceps femoris tendon, and popliteofibular ligament.

knee-lcl-collateral-1The LCL and posterolateral corner structures provide stability and prevent the outside of the knee from opening up with walking or other movements. They also play an important role in the rotational stability of the knee.

The LCL and posterolateral corner are typically injured from a blow to the inside of the knee or with high-energy trauma, such as a car accident. Injuries to the LCL and posterolateral corner rarely occur in isolation and are usually associated with tears of other knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, or PCL).

The most common symptom following an injury to the LCL and posterolateral corner is pain over the outside of the knee. Swelling, decreased motion, and instability are common with this injury. It may be difficult to place weight on the knee.

Partial tears of the LCL and posterolateral corner structures can be treated without surgery but complete tears often require surgical treatment. The torn ligaments can sometimes be repaired (sewn back together) or are reconstructed using tendon graft obtained from either the patient or a cadaver (allograft). If other ligaments are also injured in the knee (ACL, MCL, or PCL), these can be surgically addressed at the same time.

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