Bridge-Enhanced ACL Repair (BEAR)
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most common knee injuries, affecting around 400,000 Americans each year. The typical treatment for this injury is reconstructive surgery. Because ACLs do not repair themselves, the surgeon must use a tendon graft from another part of the knee to replace the ACL. This type of procedure requires months of recovery, and re-tearing can still occur in active individuals. Up to 80 percent of patients develop arthritis years after an ACL injury.
The treatment of this ultra-common injury is about to change. A new clinical trial that investigates a new technique to lessen the long-term effects of ACL injury is being conducted by Paul Fadale, MD; Michael J. Hulstyn, MD; and Brett D. Owens, MD. Bridge-enhanced ACL repair, or BEAR, uses stiches and a bridging scaffold (a sponge injected with the patients’ blood) to stimulate healing.
The main differences between traditional ACL surgery and the BEAR technique are that the patient’s grafts are not used in BEAR, and the remaining ACL tissue is preserved rather than removed. This clinical trial is seeking to understand if the BEAR method is as good as reconstructive surgery. It also will determine if the bridging scaffold will lessen the risk of re-injury, ease recovery, and reduce the chance of arthritis in the future.