In a potentially huge turn for the sports medical field, doctors at the Boston Children’s Hospital just recently announced that they have succeeded in an alternative path to fixing Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
According to The New York Times, preliminary results after three months suggest that the ACL can potentially heal without the usual graphs being needed in the future.
Dr. Martha Murray and her team at the Boston Children’s Hospital performed 10 standard ACL surgeries and 10 more experimental versions called “ridge-enhanced ACL repair.”
Per The Times, here are the preliminary results:
“In the experimental technique, the surgeons placed a blood-soaked sponge between the ligament’s severed ends; the sponge acted as a bridge, helping the ligament grow back together over the next six to eight weeks.”
This is the first time said procedures have been utilized on humans.
In what has to be considered a dramatic success, none of the patients had ligaments that failed to reconnect. There were no reported issues with infection or stiff knees as well.
One of the patients, a doctoral candidate at Harvard School of Public Health, was actually back and running on the treadmill within three months of the operation.
One expert interviewed by The Times did make sure to note that she doesn’t believe we will have a full understanding of the success rate within the next three-to-five years. Such is the nature of the beast when it comes to something as groundbreaking as this.
ACL injuries in the sports world, most notably football, have become prevalent over the years. Depending on the severity of the tear, NFL players normally find themselves rehabbing a minimum of six months before even doing any sort of physical activity on the surgically repaired knee.
Last summer alone, nearly two dozen NFL players were lost for the season due to torn ACL’s they suffered during the exhibition slate.
While running on a treadmill is a much different monster than actually cutting on the field and taking hits to the knee, the preliminary results regarding this alternative surgery have to be considered tremendous.
It just remains to be seen when said procedures will become commonplace.