Revision ligament surgery: when is it required and what is recovery time like?

Written by: Mr James Bliss
Published: | Updated: 03/05/2023
Edited by: Conor Lynch

We were fortunate enough to recently have the pleasure of speaking with highly esteemed London-based consultant orthopaedic knee surgeon, Mr James Bliss. Here, he tells us how many times a ligament can be replaced, what recovery time from knee ligament reconstruction surgery entails, and reveals what typically causes ligament reconstruction to fail.

What is revision ligament surgery?

It is when a patient has already undergone surgery, and, for a number of different reasons, the operation needs to be repeated. One of the main reasons why revision ligament surgery is required is a recurrent knee injury, when the knee has been injured again after the patient has undergone knee surgery.


What causes ligament reconstruction to fail?

Firstly, you can get an infection when you have an operation. Another typical cause of knee ligament reconstruction failure is a stiff knee, where the patient’s knee doesn’t move properly. This can be arthritis in the knee that hasn’t been diagnosed or appreciated at the time of surgery, or knee arthritis that has come on since the operation.


You may also find that the operation is painful and that you suffer from knee pain after your surgery. The most common cause, though, of ligament reconstruction, is when the ligament has been re-injured.


How many times can a ligament be repaired?

There is no real limit to how many times a ligament can be reoperated on. If the ligament has been injured twice, then the surgeon really needs to figure out why that ligament keeps failing. Often, the reasons are extremely subtle, and they can be picked up through a CT scan, MRI scan, or even sometimes a simple X-ray.


What is recovery time like?

There are two things to think about here: returning to sport on a full-time basis, and getting back to work/family life. So, if we talk about a first-time ligament reconstruction, normally getting back to full activity should not be earlier than seven months.


With revision ligament reconstruction, then realistically, recovery time will be at least nine months, and sometimes more. With regards to family and working life, it depends entirely, of course, on what the person does.


What advice would you give to patients who are about to undergo revision ligament surgery?

If I was a patient about to undergo knee revision ligament surgery, I would look for a surgeon who just specialises in the knee. Also, it would be ideal to find someone who has a specific interest in ligament injury and ligament reconstruction surgery.


Mr James Bliss is a mightily experienced and skilled consultant orthopaedic knee surgeon who is an expert when it comes to knee surgery. If you are about to undergo knee revision ligament surgery, contact him today via his Top Doctors profile

By Mr James Bliss
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr James Bliss is an expert orthopaedic surgeon in London, with over thirty years of experience, who specialises in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, meniscus surgery, osteotomy, revision ligament surgery, young adult knee preservation surgery and kneecap surgery.

He gained his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree at the University of London, graduating with honours in 1990. He went on to complete the Royal College of Surgeons fellowship programme, achieving the coveted FRCS qualification, before undertaking higher surgical training in trauma and orthopaedics. Mr Bliss also spent a year in Australia on a knee fellowship at the University of New South Wales, before accepting a consultant position at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, the position he has held for the last nineteen years.

During his studies, Mr Bliss received numerous awards such as the Walter Mercer Gold Medal for excellence during his trauma and orthopaedics training, an FRCS examination award and surgery honours for his work on his MB BS degree. 

In addition to providing the best care to his patients, Mr Bliss is also the director of the knee service at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. He is also heavily involved in training future surgeons in complex knee surgery and is an examiner for the FRCS in Orthopaedics, one of the most important qualifications in this field.

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