Posterolateral Corner (PLC) Injury 2016-10-12T12:39:56+00:00

Posterolateral Corner (PLC) Injury

knee Blacksburg VA

The posterolateral corner is made of a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the back (posterior), outside (lateral) corner of the knee. These structures are known to work together to stabilize the knee. PLC injuries most often occur as a result of trauma during a sporting event. The knee becomes hyperextended and an inward force plus a rotation force is applied to the knee. Posterolateral corner injuries usually cause pain at the back and outside of the knee. Often, posterolateral corner injuries are overlooked upon evaluation of the ACL or PCL tear. When detected, it is possible to rebuild the posterolateral corner of the knee during surgery, adding greater stability to the newly reconstructed ACL or PCL.

Symptoms of a PLC Injury

Located on the outside of the knee joint, the posterolateral corner (PLC) of the knee acts to stabilize the knee against direct lateral or external forces. Injuries that occur to this area are often due to a sports impact injury, most often occurring in football, soccer skiing and basketball. Some symptoms of a PLC injury include:

  • Side-to-side instability
  • Difficulty twisting, turning and pivoting
  • Slight swelling and pain along the outside of the knee
  • A foot drop with a concurrent peroneal nerve injury

Patients may not notice the onset of instability patterns until several weeks to months after the initial injury. It is imperative to check this area for injury during an ACL/PCL repair for the best possible surgical outcome. One of the most common reasons for failed ACL reconstructions is an unrecognized PLC injury.

Treatment of PLC Injury

The treatment for a PLC injury is most successful when diagnosed and managed during the surgery or repair of the torn cruciate ligament. This will allow the knee the best chance to heal with the most stability possible.

Acute injuries (less than 3 weeks old) can be treated with a combination of repair and reconstruction. This involves stitching the ligaments or tendons back together and reattaching them back to bone. The outcome of an acute repair/reconstruction has better functional results when treating a chronic injury. When an injury is 4-6 weeks old, the damaged structures begin to scar down. This can make a surgical repair difficult or even impossible. After 6 weeks it is generally recommended to reconstruct the PLC. Reconstruction involves recreating the damaged PLC structures from other ligaments or tendons.

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