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New ACL surgery technique reduces reconstruction failure rate

May 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
An ACL tear can end a career or a season in a split second, but a new surgery technique is helping keep repaired knees from needing more work.

Danny Hansen knows the feeling of an ACL injury 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," he said.

Now a dad, Hansen wants to share his love of the sport with his son, Blake. Dr. Tony Nguyen says 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," said Nguyen.

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 percent of traditional reconstructions fail, Nguyen says this technique reduces those failures to about four or five percent.

Hansen hopes for his son's sake, the surgery will be his last.

"I'm walking better than i ever had before with my other surgeries," he said.

When performing the new ACL technique, Nguyen advises patients under 40 to use their own tissue over tissue from a cadaver.

Studies show 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.


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