BALTIMORE—Dr. Richard Levine became the first surgeon in a U.S. multi-center study to use the Bridge-Enhanced® ACL Repair (BEAR®) Implant for the treatment of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, when he implanted the bio-engineered replacement in a 32-year-old male. Performed at MedStar Surgery Center at Timonium, an outpatient site affiliated with Medstar Union Memorial Hospital, the patient went home the same day.
ACL tears are one of the most common knee injuries in the nation. The BEAR Implant is the first medical technology to clinically demonstrate that it enables healing – or restoration – of the patient’s torn ACL. The approach is a paradigm shift from the current standard of care – reconstruction that replaces the ACL with a graft – and is the first innovation in ACL tear treatment in more than 30 years.
Every year, approximately 400,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States. A torn ACL does not heal without treatment, resulting in ACL reconstruction being one of the most common orthopedic procedures in the U.S. The ACL is a ligament stretching from the front to the back of the knee and is part of the tissue connecting the thigh bone to the shinbone. Tears to the ACL most often occur in athletes during a fast pivot motion, changing direction or stopping suddenly, or when landing a jump.
“We have historically defined success of ACL reconstruction as restoration of knee stability, however patients who have received this treatment have a high risk of developing degenerative arthritis as they age” said Dr. Levine, a MedStar Health orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon and principal investigator for the study. “Preliminary studies using the BEAR implant have yielded similar success rates in terms of restoring knee stability in addition to laboratory studies that have shown a significant decrease in the rate of knee degeneration. As one of the largest sports medicine providers in the country, we are very excited to be able to offer this to qualified patients.”
During an ACL reconstruction, the surgeon completely removes the remaining torn ACL and most often reconstructs it with a tendon from the patient’s own leg (called an autograft). Unlike reconstruction, the BEAR procedure does not have the morbidity of a graft harvest. The BEAR Implant acts as a bridge between the two ends of the torn ACL. The surgeon injects a small amount of the patient’s own blood into the implant and inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL in a minimally invasive procedure. The combination of the BEAR Implant and the patient’s blood enables the body to heal the torn ends of the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the femur and tibia.
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