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Posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Surgery to reconstruct the posterior cruciate ligament

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and stabilises the knee. In the event of severe trauma, such as a poor landing, dislocation or impact, it is possible for the PCL to tear.

A PCL injury can be painful, cause swelling and stiffness and make it difficult to use the stairs or walk. It can also coincide with damage to other ligaments, so it’s important to have the knee joint investigated properly.

Experience the benefits of a specialist knee surgery unit

The first step to diagnosing a ruptured PCL is a physical examination. You may also require an MRI scan to confirm a suspected PCL tear and an X-Ray to examine the surrounding bone. We can offer these diagnostic tests with shorter waiting times.


If your consultant recommends surgery, you can trust that you’re in safe hands. Our surgeons are highly experienced at performing PCL reconstructions and can answer any questions you might have.


Whether you require surgical or non-surgical interventions, physiotherapy is essential following a PCL tear. Expert physiotherapists will show you the exercises you can do to give your knee the best chance of recovery.

Your PCL reconstruction questions answered

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the ligament that connects your femur (thigh bone) to the top of your tibia (shin bone). Its function is to provide stability and help your knee move smoothly.

The PCL is a stronger ligament than the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and therefore injuries to this ligament are less common. However, tears can and do happen, particularly amongst athletes.

While an ACL tear is known for its popping sensation, a PCL tear causes pain and swelling that can worsen over time. The knee might feel unstable, or you might experience pain in the back of the knee when the leg is bent.

You will need to book a consultation with a knee specialist, who can examine your knee thoroughly. You may also be referred for diagnostic scans, such as an X-Ray, so that the damage can be seen more clearly.

Whether or not you need surgery will depend on the extent of the damage. PCL tears are often graded 1-4, with 1 being a partial tear and 4 being a tear to the PCL and another ligament. If the damage is extensive (e.g. a complete tear), surgery may be the next course of action.

Some patients with an injured PCL find that non-surgical interventions relieve their symptoms. You could try the RICE technique – rest, ice, compression and elevating the leg. You might also find it helps to wear a brace and use crutches.

Physiotherapy – particularly exercises to strengthen your thigh muscles – will also be an essential part of your recovery.

PCL reconstruction surgery usually takes around 1 hour and can be performed arthroscopically (using a minimally invasive keyhole technique). Most patients are placed under a general anaesthetic, but you could also have a local or spinal anaesthetic. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you.

The aim of a PCL reconstruction is to use a graft from a healthy tendon, such as the hamstring, to repair the ligament. A graft can also come from a deceased donor, which is a procedure known as an allograft.

Your surgeon will make a small incision and insert a camera into the knee joint. Once they can see the damaged area on the screen, they can either reattach the torn ligament or attach a new graft to the bone.

It’s our aim to make sure you’re fully prepared ahead of any procedure. After all, we want you to be as relaxed as possible on the day of your surgery.

Most patients will be asked not to drink or eat anything before surgery. You might also be asked to stop smoking or to stop taking certain medications. Your consultant will discuss these requirements with you ahead of the procedure.

Most patients can go home on the same day as their surgery. You will need to consider how you are planning to get home after surgery, as you won’t be able to drive after a general anaesthetic and will be on crutches.

Once you’re at home, physiotherapy will be an important part of your recovery. We have a team of physiotherapists here to guide you through exercises you can do at home, and you will return to the Knee Surgery Unit after a few weeks so that we can review your progress.

PCL reconstruction surgery typically has good outcomes, but all surgery carries risks. Complications can include pain, bleeding, infection (at the surgical site) and blood clots (including the risk of deep vein thrombosis). You might also experience swelling or limited range of motion.

There is also the risk that the graft won’t work, and further interventions will be required. Your surgeon will discuss the risks and limitations of PCL reconstruction surgery with you ahead of the procedure.

You may be covered by private medical insurance, or you may wish to consider spreading the cost of your surgery by opting for a monthly payment plan.

We aim to make our costs as transparent as possible, but it’s important to talk everything through in detail with your consultant at the time of your appointment. Some costs may be paid directly to the hospital, while others, such as your consultant fees, may be paid directly to the consultant.

Choose Sulis Hospital for your knee surgery

Sulis Hospital Knee Surgery Unit specialises in diagnosing and treating knee pain. At our private hospital, you’ll benefit from the expertise of internationally recognised surgeons and a team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Knee pain can be so disruptive to daily life, so it’s understandable that you’d want to be seen as quickly as possible. With timely access to diagnostics and shorter waiting times for surgery, we can support you in moving forward faster.

Treatment Overview

Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover as quickly as possible.

  • Typical hospital stay Daycase

  • Covered by health insurance? Yes

  • Can I pay privately? Yes

You’re in safe hands at Sulis Hospital.

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