Boston Children’s Hospital researchers have been working to develop a better way to treat ACL injuries and have launched a clinical trial to study their new technique.
This new surgery — bridge-enhanced ACL repair (BEAR) — uses a special protein-enriched sponge to encourage the torn ends of an ACL to reconnect and heal. The patient no longer needs to have the torn ACL removed and replaced with a tendon graft. This is why the surgery is called ACL repair rather than ACL reconstruction.
Surgeons hope bridge-enhanced ACL repair will be better way to treat ACL tears than ACL reconstruction in several ways. ACL repair may be more accurate than ACL reconstruction, and it may lead to better long-term outcomes, including a lower rate of arthritis and a reduced risk of re-tearing the reconstructed ACL.
Why do surgeons need a better way to treat ACL tears?
An ACL tear can be a devastating sports injury. A growing number of young athletes face ACL injuries, or ACL tears, every year. The current standard of care, ACL surgery — or ACL reconstruction — is a good solution. But it is linked with a 20 percent risk of re-tearing the ACL, and many young patients face an increased risk of arthritis. Bridge-enhanced ACL repair may overcome these challenges.