In the active sports world that we live in, injuries are common: unfortunately one of those most common injuries is a torn ACL. As it stands the traditional way of repairing the Anterior Cruciate Ligament is through grafting a piece of ligament from either the hamstring or the patella. This technique is generally fairly successful, but after looking at more of the statistics- it appears that more than half of people who have had surgery on their ACL will re-injure the same knee at the same or worse severity than the first time.
Dr. Jo Hannafin, a senior attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who was not involved in the experiment said, “this is definitely an advance”.
Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital have performed this operation one 10 patients now. This new technique of placing a sponge-like bridge filled with the patients blood in the torn region of the ligament allows for the original ligament to regrow much more naturally. We won’t know whether or not this is more effective than the traditional solution for at least another 3-5 years. However, this is a great starting point for patients who are looking for a less invasive surgery option.
“The real beauty of it is you’re getting the native A.C.L. to heal without having a graft,” said Dr. Rick Wright, professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who was also not involved in the experiment.
Each year approximately 200,000 people injure their ACL, and of these, 100,000 get a traditional style surgery. With numbers this high, it’s almost surprising that an alternative like this doesn’t already exist. It is exciting to see the medical advancement in our lifetime and simply imagine where it might go.
Find more statistics about torn ACL’s and what doctors are doing to help prevent this, check this out!