T Nation

ACL Replacement (Cadaver)



Similar to the post above, wanted to update you on my ACL surgery completed last Thursday, October 7th (4 days ago).

I'm a 39 year old male, 6'2'', 220lbs. Still play competitve flag football, lift fairly heavy (been following Wendler 5/3/1 for over a year now), and stay in great shape.

I have to say, I've been very happy with my recovery so far. I'm not sure what advantages the cadaver (donor tissue) mainly present, but my doctor said at 39 he really recommended the cadaver for a quick recovery.

Thus far, it HAS been quick. I was off my meds in just 2 days (by Saturday), and off my crutches by Sunday (day 3). Today, on Monday, I worked out on a stationary bike under my PT's guidance, albeit slowly. But I was doing full revolutions.

That's all I got for now. I will certainly follow my PT's advice, and take it slow. I'm hoping to get back to playing flag football by next summer, or maybe even the spring league.


That's fantastic. The only downside of cadaver grafts that I've come across are a slightly larger risk of re-tear and a small chance of transmission of disease. Honestly though, that's the route I would have chosen if I was 39. I have been through ACL reconstructions in both knees, both using my own tissue, and they are lengthy recoveries.

I had one done at age 21 and the other 9 weeks ago at age 26. Even being so young, it takes a while for the donor site to heal so I can't imagine having to go through that later in life.

Good luck with your recovery, sounds like you're already on the fast track.


Measured 110 degrees today with knee bend, one week after operation. Making progress.


Update: walked for 3 hours today in Philly on field trip with my brace on, and then worked out tonight at my gym without my brace for the first time. Surgery was exactly 2 weeks ago. I feel better walking without the brace, but may keep it to be safe.

Otherwise...feeling pretty solid!


The cadaver route is a quicker heal time but as Triple C said, it's a greater risk of repeat tear. If you get it from your own patella tendon, then you gotta deal with two sites healing. I'm a PT, i work with ACL reconstructions a lot at my clinic so I think you chose the right route. Just one thing, make sure you don't get too anxious and try anything heavy before you are 100% healed and easing slowly into heavy lifting when allowed.


My I ask why the greater risk of a re-tear? I would assume that from a cadaver they could use a whole chunk of patellar and get a good bone plug on each end?
(like I said these are just my assumptions)


I heard this as well, where did you find that statistic?


From what my surgeon told me, the tissue is weakened during the storage process. Whatever they do to keep the tissue alive (freezing, I believe) degrades it to a small degree.


Gotcha, I wonder if they can get around this in modern times. I am thoroughly convinced that rehab is about 20 times quicker without a slcied up hamstring


Update: I'm about 7 weeks out from my surgery. Knee feels great, starting to put size back on to my surgical leg. I've been doing body weight lunges, light jumping rope, biking, and leg press/leg curl supersets. Will start running in about 2 months. The only thing that still noticeably bothers me is walking down steep stairs, my knee still feels tight doing that. Otherwise, looking forward to football next spring!