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MedStar Health offers innovative ACL tear treatment

Posted at 1:20 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 18:34:50-04

TIMONIUM, Md (WMAR) — Technological advancements are making way for better long term outcomes for patients who tear their ACL.

“We want to get these athletes not only back on the field but we want to protect their knee long term,” said Dr. Richard Levine, a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

ACL surgeries are among the most common sports medicine procedures performed in the United States, numbering about 400,000 each year, according to MedStar Health. Dr. Levine was the first U.S. surgeon to join the phase three trial for a new treatment that changes the way ACL tears are treated.

Usually, a reconstruction is performed by taking a graft from somewhere in the knee but about 50% of those patients end up with arthritis.

“This new technology, the BEAR: Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration, is completely different in that it’s allowing the ACL to regrow,” said Dr. Levine. “The reason the ACL doesn’t heal is there’s fluid in the knee that blocks that healing response, so this new technology is taking a scaffold and putting it in the knee in the area of the torn ACL and adding the patient’s own blood to almost form a blood clot and change the environment in the knee and allow the ACL to regrow itself.”

While recovery time is about the same, Dr. Levine said it’s the long-term impacts that are promising.

“There were some early animal studies looking at the rate of arthritis on an ACL restoration compared to a reconstruction and these preliminary studies showed that there was a significant decrease in getting that arthritis,” said Dr. Levine.

It was a no-brainer for physical therapist Zachary Mitchell when he found out he tore his ACL.. again. The first time, it was in college playing rugby. He had the traditional reconstruction. Ten years later, he tore his other ACL during an intense family soccer league game.

“It was the championship game so I was pushing a little too much. The team passed me a long ball. I was chasing it down. It deflected weird. My body said get that ball and I made a split second decision that my ACL couldn’t handle,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell is now six months out from surgery using the BEAR treatment and he’s very happy he made the decision.

“I’m very functional and back to work full time and able to hike my dogs,” said Mitchell. “Having less trauma inside the knee is a big deal. Osteoarthritis is a big issue and I know that I’m going to probably develop that in one knee so if I can prevent that, it’s going to be a big deal.”

Since September, Dr. Levine has performed the surgery on 18 patients. Click here to request an appointment with Dr. Levine.