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Biologics Could Heal ACL Tears Without Surgery

A new treatment could prompt ruptured ligaments to grow back together on their own.

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A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be devastating and even career-ending for athletes. The standard treatment consists of harvesting tissue, and surgically reconstructing the ligament, which is a long and painful process. A recent article from The Wall Street Journal discussed a potential new way to treat torn ACLs without the need for invasive surgery. The method focuses on restoration rather than reconstruction, and employs biologics to kickstart the body’s natural healing power.

One of these methods that’s already being used is known as the BEAR implant, which is an abbreviation for Bridge-Enhanced ACL Restoration. This treatment encourages the torn ACL stumps to grow back together with the help of a “cylindrical marshmallow-like” implant composed of bovine collagen that is injected with the patient’s blood. Another method uses platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, and bone-marrow concentrate to encourage wound healing. “We are working toward a future in which repair becomes the default,” Dr. Murray said. “Reconstruction we’ll save as a salvage operation basically, for when we can’t repair it for some reason.”

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