New Push to Repair, Not Reconstruct Torn ACLs

It’s a common sports injury. A torn anterior cruciate ligament-or ACL holds the knee in place. Now, some surgeons are testing a minimally invasive repair using polymers that are as durable as Kevlar: the material used in bulletproof vests.

Friends told Brian Radecki he’d never do this ever again. In April 2018, the 48-year-old was hiking in Joshua Tree National Park with his family. His foot stopped, but the rest of his leg kept moving.

“My ACL popped, and basically ripped right off the bone,” Radecki said.

Instead of conventional ACL surgery, which would have required a grafted tendon from another part of his body, Radecki wanted something better. As the founder of a biotech company, he was comfortable trying someone else’s new medical technique.

Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, an Orthopedic Surgeon at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is among a handful of orthopedic surgeons using a new procedure to repair the torn ACL.

During a 30-minute procedure, Douoguih then creates a bracing system inside the knee.

“You put stitches into the native ligament, and you pass the rope through the center of the ligament or around the ligament, and it acts like a check rain or a strut," Douoguih said.

Ten months after surgery, Radecki was back on the slopes, the ice, and the streets.

“I have zero restrictions,” said Radecki.

With a knee that is as good or better than new.

Douoguih says this new procedure is not for every patient who has a torn ACL. He says it seems to work best on patients who have a ligament that has a clean tear from the bone, like Radecki. Also, he says having the new procedure does not preclude patients from having conventional ACL surgery in the future, if needed.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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