The ultimate goal of ACL reconstructive surgery is to provide dynamic stability while maintaining full range of motion, so that athletes can return to competitive or recreational sports. Progress is assessed by the patient's perception of how stable the knee feels and by comparing the strength and stability of the injured and uninjured knees. In Boston at the New England Baptist Hospital a new medical device for ACL repair is being tested in large animals (goats). A new biomaterial made from natural silk protein is being installed in the knee using a standard surgical procedure to repair a torn ACL. The biomaterial is designed to provide a strong yet temporary support structure that replaces the torn ACL and stabilizes the knee joint. The developers believe their proprietary technology can provide a long-term bioresorbable graft scaffold that anticipates the defect site’s biological and mechanical requirements for ACL regeneration.
Results from a recent study showed that all animals (43) were weight bearing at 3, 6, and 12 months, with 95% returning to normal gait by 6 months; the majority of knees were clinically stable at all points. Range of motion assessment indicated the knees maintained a normal range flexion and extension at all points. By 12 months, the initial graft structure was not evident, indicating the device’s ability to provide sufficient direction and space for substantial ligament ingrowth while being bioresorbed.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.