At this point, we’ve treated so many ACL tear patients without surgery, using instead a precise injection of high-dose stem cells, it’s getting tough to keep up with all of the successes. Hence, this morning’s blog is catching up on two recent cases at once. These are two young men who both chose to skip surgical reconstruction for precise, injection-based ACL tear repair and never looked back!
Why Would You Want to Skip the ACL Surgery?
A Defensive Lineman Skips the Knife…
This is a 16-year-old who had someone fall on his hyperextended knee during a football game. He went back in and shook it off, but every time he tried to apply pressure to the joint, it uncontrollably hyperextended. Turns out not only did he have a completely trashed ACL, but his MCL and LCL were injured as well. Because only one of the bundles of his ACL (there are two bundles naturally) was anywhere near fixable with our precise injection procedure, he and his mother were told by Dr. Markle that it was likely only one bundle of his ACL would regenerate with this procedure. However, given that an ACL surgery usually only leaves the patient with one part of the ACL that goes in at a nonphysiologic angle, he would likely be better off without surgery if we could get one bundle to heal. Hence, they went for it.
Above are his before and after images. On the left, his ACL is between the yellow arrowheads. It’s bright and blown out. On the right is a three-month post-injection image. We now see a single band of healed ACL, which is dark colored and condensed. It’s likely we’ll give this particular patient a booster shot to get more healing, but it’s also likely if we left this ACL alone to continue to heal that based on our previous experience, the six-month image will look even better.
An Avid Colorado Skier Thumbs His Nose at Surgery!
Nate is a patient of Dr. Williams and in his twenties and works at a major university. He’s an extreme skier and did a backflip and landed awkwardly. He felt a pop and then had knee swelling, and an MRI showed a completely blown ACL. He knew one of our research staff and was told that ACL surgery was so 2015 for ACL tear repair and might not be needed. His case was also complicated by MCL and LCL injuries! His six-month post-injection images are below:
The image on the left shows a light-colored and blown-out ACL on the left (between the arrowheads). The six-month post-procedure image is on the right. Again, note the dark and more normal-looking ACL.
How did he do? This picture of him skiing at six months says it all:
The upshot? These two patients skipped the surgery and tried to heal their own ACLs. Both were successful cases, but please be careful. This is an ACL tear repair procedure that requires fluoroscopy (for ligaments like this, ultrasound is below the standard of care) and extensive training, which only exists right now through the IOF. Hence, there are only a handful of medical providers in the U.S. with the training and experience to be able to pull this off!