Advances in ACL surgery

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Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 3:35 pm | Updated: 5:20 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

Every year about 200,000 people will suffer an ACL injury. Half of them will need reconstructive surgery, but studies show many of those procedures will fail. Now, a new technique is helping keep repaired knees from needing more work.

An ACL tear can end a 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. “I had an ACL reconstruction, and the same thing in 2007."

Now a dad, he wants to share his love of the sport with his son Blake. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tony Nguyen says Danny'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, Dr. Nguyen used a piece of tendon from Danny's knee and a new technique known as anteromedial drilling. "As a sports surgeon, it's a very big breakthrough."

The approach allows surgeons to perfectly place the new tissue. That helps restore the natural anatomy of the knee, giving patients more rotational control.

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

"I'm walking better than I ever had before with my other surgeries," says Danny.

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

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