American Family Children's Hospital

The Destination for Complex Knee Injuries

Complex, multi-ligament knee injuries—whether the result of a sports injury, an accident or a fall—can have serious consequences if not treated quickly and appropriately.


Acute multi-ligament knee injuries that result in dislocation are often accompanied by vascular or nerve damage. UW Hospital and Clinics is a Level 1 Trauma Center with bone and soft-tissue trauma experts available to provide an evaluation any time. Even for non-emergency cases, it's crucial that patients are assessed for vascular or nerve damage, even if the related knee swelling spontaneously reduces.


After the swelling has reduced and the knee is properly immobilized, UW Health orthopedic surgeons recommend patients be evaluated as soon as possible. If surgery is required, it should take place 10 to 20 days after the initial injury. This will allow time for swelling to go down, but is soon enough to result in the best possible outcome.


Surgical interventions vary depending on which ligaments are involved and the extent of the injury. For most complex knee injuries, UW Health orthopedic surgeons perform primary repairs augmented by anatomic reconstruction, replacing the injured ligament with a graft in the exact same position.


Complex anatomic reconstruction of the knee is an innovative and challenging procedure not performed at most centers. But because it more closely reproduces native anatomy, this procedure offers patients more normal knee function and less chance of future injury.


UW Health orthopedic surgeons are a resource for patients with complex knee injuries. Multi-ligament knee reconstruction is performed by Geoffrey Baer, MD, associate professor in the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.