Recent studies have found that conventional anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction may not be the best approach for all patients. In fact, long-term studies show a high rate of symptomatic arthritis and decrease in strength from athletes participating in running and jumping sports after conventional reconstruction. If you’ve torn your ACL, there’s now another option: ACL repair.
A new, minimally invasive approach preserves your torn ACL by repairing it instead of obtaining a tendon graft from another part of your body. During the minimally invasive procedure, your orthopedic surgeon creates small incisions in your knee to reduce scarring and then repairs your torn ACL by suturing the tendon back together.
The repair is supplemented by placing a Kevlar-laced, braided suture alongside the repair to add additional support. It functions as internal scaffolding, built around the injury, and it allows earlier return to motion, while providing enhanced protection and an opportunity for the original ligament to heal. Instead of a post-operative knee brace, that support is placed inside the knee.
Patients have demonstrated less atrophy (partial or complete wasting away) than is commonly seen with conventional ACL reconstruction, as well as a more rapid functional recovery (at least one month faster, on average).
Additional benefits include:
- Preservation of the nerves and the blood vessels
- Preservation of the area where the ACL connects to the tibia (bone in the lower leg), reducing the chance for failure after ACL repair
- Less soft tissue and bone damage
- Small pinholes in the bone compared with conventional ACL reconstruction, thereby providing a better chance for success if conventional procedures need to be done in the future.
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, ACL repair procedures are performed by highly experienced ACL tear specialists who offer a complete range of services for ACL tear patients, from diagnosis through treatment.
This new ACL repair treatment is not appropriate for all patients, so the specialists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center still offer the traditional ACL reconstruction treatment for patients who require that procedure.
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute is the official medical team of the NHL Washington Capitals and the NBA Washington Wizards.