Healing Another ACL Tear with a Precise Injection of Stem Cells

Series of MRIs showing before and after stem cell injection


I love sharing MRIs of patients who never got ACL surgery and who instead got a precise injection of high-dose stem cells. This morning’s images are above. This patient is a bit unique in that he’s a specialist physician. Why is that important? Because physicians have been to the proverbial puppet show and have seen the surgical strings. As a result, they often choose not to have surgery.

Why You Don’t Want ACL Surgery if You Don’t Need It

Most people think that getting ACL surgery is like replacing a tire in their car. The old one is taken out, and a new one is installed. Good as new! Regrettably, none of this is remotely true.

The new ACL graft is usually taken from somewhere. The spot it’s taken from is weaker. I’ve performed ultrasound examinations on these sites in the hamstring and quadriceps tendon. These sites don’t ever repair themselves, they’re left with parts missing, and research backs up that the muscle is weaker.

The new ACL graft also has other problems. First, it has none of the neural hookups to the local nerves, so it lacks the ability to trigger local muscles to protect the knee. Second, it also usually only has one bundle; whereas, the ACL you were born with has two. Why is this a big deal? Because the two natural bundles help to stabilize the rotation of the knee joint when pivoting. When the new ACL graft goes in with a single bundle, you lose that natural protection of the joint. Third, the new graft goes in at a steeper angle than the original ligament, again reducing the protection for the joint in front-back situations. So, in summary, your “new” knee after ACL surgery is far inferior to the original equipment.

What if there was a way to heal your damaged ACL with just a precise injection and skip the surgery? In this situation, you would end up with a ligament that is hooked into the nervous system, has two bundles, and is at the correct angle. This procedure is one that we invented, and it’s called Perc-ACLR for percutaneous ACL repair.

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One Doctor’s Story

We literally have 30 or so before and after MRIs on this website of ACLs treated with the Perc-ACLR procedure. So this is not my first post on the topic, and it won’t be the last. Just search under “ACL MRI” to see all of these prior posts.

This patient is a physician. Why is that important? Physicians don’t sign up for magic stem cell procedures like those being offered by chiropractors who have nurses injecting dead amniotic tissue and calling it a stem cell injection. They want a serious procedure performed by serious physicians. In addition, they also want to avoid surgery. Why? They have seen the surgical complications and mishaps firsthand.

Here’s a video of how the Perc-ACLR procedure is performed:

After a traumatic ACL injury in the late spring, we performed the Perc-ACLR procedure in the summer. Above you’ll find this patient’s before and after images. I have outlined the ACL in the triangles above. Note that in the “before” images you see a white line through the ACL and that the ligament is lighter and more blown out. The ligament is then shown in the six-month post images without the white line tear and is darker and tighter and less blown out.

While an image is helpful, we really need to see if all of this means that the patient is doing better functionally. Here’s his report:

“Functionally both knees feel great. There is occasional pain in the L knee when I get up from a chair or if it is bent for a long time. There has been no instability in either knee. The R knee feels perfectly normal, better than it ever has.  I have been able to go running on a regular basis without limitation.”

I think he still needs a follow-up injection, to maximize healing, so that will get done in the next few months.

The upshot? The Perc-ACLR procedure is a game changer. We can help about 70% of patients who now get surgery heal the ACL without ripping out and replacing the damaged ligament with a graft. One day we’re hoping to help the other 30%. In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to see if you can avoid ACL surgery!

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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