Medical Moment: Bridge-enhanced ACL restoration

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:41 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - An ACL or anterior cruciate ligament tear is one of the most common knee injuries in the U.S., with between 150,000 and 200,000 occurring each year, primarily in professional and amateur athletes.

Until recently, patients undergoing reconstructive surgery had only two choices: use their own tissue for the repair or take it from a cadaver. But now, there’s a third option.

16-year-old Kelis Guzman is recovering from an ACL tear - an injury she sustained while playing a friendly game of soccer.

“I landed weird on my left knee and so, then, I heard like a pop and a crack,” Guzman recalled.

Doctors gave Kelis two surgical options: A bridge-enhanced ACL restoration, better known as a BEAR implant, or the traditional procedure, which involves...

“Taking another ligament from somewhere else, and then replacing it when the torn ACL, currently, is no longer there,” said Dr. Yair Kissin, an orthopedic surgeon.

Approved by the FDA in 2020, a BEAR implant doesn’t rely on human tissue; it’s made from bovine collagen to bridge the gap between the torn ends of a patient’s ACL. The implant is absorbed by the body, which replaces it with its own tissue, eliminating the need to harvest a ligament from the patient’s otherwise healthy knee or rely on a cadaver part.

“There is some data that shows by preserving as much of the patient’s native ACL, you are also preserving some of those proprioceptive fibers that help with keeping a knee more stable,” Dr. Kissin said.

Both options have the same nine-month to a-year recovery period, so Guzman - who hopes to play soccer in college - chose a BEAR implant because she didn’t want to use her own ligament. Aside from the stiffness that’s associated with the procedure.

The BEAR implant isn’t an option for everyone. It’s indicated for skeletally mature patients who have some remaining ACL tissue.