Health Beat: Knees-accurate ACL repair

Health Beat: Knees-accurate ACL repair

Every year, about 200,000 people will suffer an ACL injury. Often, those require knee surgeries, which often fail, and now there's a new technique that's helping the success rate.

An ACL tear can end an athletic career or a season in a split second.

Danny Hansen knows the feeling all too well. He just had his latest ACL surgery.  It's the third time he's torn up his knee playing basketball.

"In 2004, I had an ACL reconstruction and the same thing in 2007," said Hansen.

Now a dad, he wants to share his love of the sport with his son Blake.

Dr. Tony Nguyen, orthopedic surgeon in sports medicine and trauma at The Core Institute, said Hansen's prior surgeries failed because older techniques forced doctors to place new tissue in the wrong position, which can limit the knee's ability to rotate.

To repair the ACL, Nguyen used a piece of tendon from Hansen's knee and a new technique known as anteromedial drilling. 

"As a sports surgeon, it's a very big breakthrough," Nguyen said.

The approach allows surgeons to perfectly place the new tissue, helping to restore the natural anatomy of the knee.  

While up to 25 percent of traditional reconstructions fail, "with the new technique and using his own tendon, the reported rupture rate is about four or five percent," said Nguyen.

"I'm walking better than I ever had before with my other surgeries," said Hansen, after his latest surgery with the new technique.

For his son's sake, he hopes this surgery will be his last.

When performing the new ACL technique, the doctor advises patients under 40 to use their own tissue over tissue from a cadaver. Studies show that ACLs reconstructed with cadaverous tissue are at a significantly higher risk for graft failure in younger patients than they are for older, less active patients.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Tony Nguyen about repairing torn ACLs

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