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Exciting Early Results: ACL Scaffold Repair

Our current best ways to treat a torn ACL is a surgical procedure called a “reconstruction”, where a substitute tissue (a “graft”) is used to replace the torn ACL. Tunnels or sockets are drilled in the bone, so the bone essentially grows into the new tissue and makes a new ACL. 

ACL surgery has improved substantially over the last 30 years, with generally excellent results. But there can be issues related to the bone tunnels potentially causing growth disturbance in young athletes, and issues related to the removal of the graft. A new type of ACL repair using stitches and a biologic scaffold to enhance healing is showing very exciting early results. If this ACL repair technique proves itself in larger clinical studies, we can expect it to be an excellent option to avoid tunnels and grafts for some ACL tear types.

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ACL Suture Repair For Adolescents: High Failure Rates

What if it was possible to repair the torn ACL by using stitches rather than replacing it with tissue removed from another area in the body? This is attractive as it would theoretically lead to an easier rehab, and avoid possible injury to the growth plates in adolescents. However, a recently published study showed a 49% failure rate at 3 years, compared to a 5% failure rate for traditional ACL reconstruction. This is an unacceptably high failure rate, and ACL repair with stitches is not advised for young athletes.

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