Can you avoid ACL surgery by using your own stem cells to heal your knee?
I’ve blogged many times before about our new technology whereby we perform an exacting injection of the patient’s own stem cells directly into the torn knee ACL ligament. When we first began this type of therapy, we figured that only about 1 in 3 ACL tears were a good candidate. However, since then we’re routinely seeing good evidence of healing of complete ACL tears, expanding the patients that can be treated to include those with complete non-retracted and partially retracted ACL tears.
Case in point is this 14 year soccer star. Like many girls playing soccer today, she blew out her ACL with few detectable fibers on MRI that connected into her femoral insertion of the ligament. She was told that the Regenexx-ACL therapy had a high risk of failure due to the size of the tear, but her physician understood that a 14 year old who gets her ACL ripped out and replaced surgically will more than likely have knee arthritis by the time she’s 30. So they elected to try the Regenexx-ACL procedure.
The result? At six weeks after the stem cells injection, her pictures are above. Note that on the before image the red dashed lines outline the dark ACL ligament, which only goes part of the way up (it should be almost black and extend all the way up inside the lines). In addition, you can see the ligament is loose and something you may not notice is that the angle of the ligament is wrong. If you look at the after films, you can now see that the ligament now goes all of the way up and that the angle has changed (the ligament now lies a bit more horizontal). Why did the ligament angle change? Her ACL is now tight (like it should be), so after the treatment it lies at a more normal horizontal angle.
The upshot? We’re now routinely helping many patients avoid the need for ACL surgery and dramatically shortening recovery times by allowing patients to keep their own ACL ligaments.