ACL Reconstruction surgery

Learn about the surgical procedure, costs and recovery for an ACL reconstruction.

What is an ACL reconstruction?1

An ACL reconstruction is a surgery which replaces a torn ACL – or anterior cruciate ligament – with new ACL graft tissue — either taken from the patient's own body (tissue from the main patellar tendon or the hamstring) or donated from someone else (called an allograft).

The ACL is important in stabilising your knee during movement. When torn, your knee can collapse when making twisting or turning movements. Torn ACLs are often caused by contact sport or skiing injuries.

An ACL reconstruction is usually performed by an orthopaedic surgeon.

Someone who needs ACL surgery

Signs you might need an ACL reconstruction2

Surgery is just one option for treating a torn ACL. Physiotherapy, wearing a knee brace, and other methods can also be very effective.

Reconstruction may be recommended for:

  • Situations where your knee continually gives way after a tear.
  • Combined injuries (ACL tears that occur along with other injuries in the knee, which is not uncommon.)
  • Active adults involved in sports or jobs that require pivoting, turning, or hard-cutting, or who perform heavy manual work.

Alternatives to an ACL reconstruction1

Woman getting physiotherapy as an ACL reconstruction alternative
Woman recovering from ACL reconstruction reading a book

ACL reconstruction recovery1

Most patients leave hospital one day after an ACL reconstruction.

  • For a few weeks following surgery, a knee brace and crutches are usually needed.
  • It’s recommended that people don’t drive for a few weeks post surgery.
  • Most people make a good recovery after an ACL reconstruction if they undertake intensive physiotherapy and do the recommended rehabilitation exercises.
  • Regular exercise can aid recovery but must be done in line with healthcare provider advice.
  • The knee is unlikely to return to pre-injury condition.

Private health insurance can help with physiotherapy costs too, if you get extras cover that includes physiotherapy.

Getting an ACL reconstruction at a public vs private hospital

It’s important to understand how getting your procedure in a public or private hospital differs.

Public system (Without health insurance)
Private system (With health insurance)

Will I avoid public hospital waiting lists?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I be able to choose my hospital?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I be able to choose my doctor or surgeon?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I have out-of-pocket costs?

  • No.
  • Yes.

What is the cost of ACL reconstruction surgery?

In a public hospital

In a public hospital, an ACL reconstruction is covered by Medicare for eligible residents.

Once you are discharged from hospital, you may still need to pay out-of-pocket for things like medicines and health services (like physiotherapy or occupational therapy).

In a private hospital, using health insurance

In a private hospital, private health insurance can cover some costs of an ACL reconstruction.

You may have an out-of-pocket cost if you use private hospital cover when you get treatment. You can minimise some of these costs by choosing a hospital and specialist that have agreements with your health insurer.

If you have an excess on your cover, you will have to pay for that out of pocket.

What is hospital excess?

What is an out-of-pocket cost?

How to find health cover for an ACL reconstruction

Minimise your costs

Ask your GP for an open referral

Your GP is the one who’ll most likely refer you to a specialist – but you may want the option to choose your own specialist.

Asking for an open referral can let you:

  • Choose your own specialist.
  • Find a specialist with good availability who can perform treatment at the hospital you prefer.
  • Find a specialist that you trust to perform your surgery.
  • Find a specialist with minimum out-of-pocket expenses for you.

Find an orthopaedic surgeon with minimum out-of-pocket costs

To find orthopaedic surgeons who have an agreement with HBF, just search for ‘orthopaedic surgeon’ in our find a provider tool.

  • Look for the “Full Cover” tick mark or “Access Gap Cover” tick mark.
  • These specialists will help minimise your out-of-pocket cost.

Find a Provider

If you’ve already started working with a specialist

If you’ve already got a specialist, ask them these questions:

  • Do you have a Full Cover or No Gap agreement with HBF?
    If they don’t, you may need to consider if their fees work with your budget.
  • What hospital(s) do you operate in?
    You can then check if the hospital has a Full Cover or No Gap agreement with HBF.

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