An ACL injury involves a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament, the tissue that connects your thigh bone to your shinbone. Traditional ACL reconstruction for injuries requires surgery to remove the ACL and a graft to replace the tendon from the patient’s own leg or a deceased donor.
Dr. Ed Tingstad, Orthopedic Surgeon at Inland Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Clinic, part of Pullman Regional Hospital’s Orthopedic Center of Excellence, is excited to offer a different ACL procedure to patients that doesn’t require a graft: the BEAR Implant.
The BEAR Implant was invented by Dr. Martha Murray, a friend and colleague of Dr. Tingstad. She was actually inspired to pursue her medical degree through her research to develop a graft-less “cure” for an ACL injury. Today Dr. Murray is the Orthopedic Surgeon-in-Chief for Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
If you injure your ACL, what happens?
An ACL injury is quite common, especially for athletes. Many people report hearing a pop or feeling a popping sensation when they injure their ACL. After injury, the knee often swells and becomes too painful to bear weight- this is when a patient normally seeks medical attention. “ACL reconstruction surgeries are very common. Without treatment, the ACL will not heal on its own,” explains Dr. Tingstad.
What happens during a BEAR Implant procedure?
The BEAR Implant acts as a bridge to help the ends of the torn ACL heal back together. Through this minimally-invasive procedure, a surgeon injects a small amount of a patient’s blood into the BEAR implant, then inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL. Through this procedure, the body can heal the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the femur and tibia bones.
As the ACL heals, the implant is resorbed by the body, usually within eight weeks. “This is an exciting option to help patients get back to sport, normal activities, and daily life. With only one surgical site, patients don’t have to heal multiple areas during recovery,” Dr. Tingstad says.
Who is a good candidate for a BEAR Implant procedure?
The BEAR Implant typically works best for patients over 14 years of age, who are skeletally mature, and have a complete rupture of the ACL. Patients must also have an ACL stump attached to the tibia. In most cases, this procedure must occur within 50 days of the injury for the BEAR Implant to be most effective.
Depending on your injury and medical history, your orthopedic surgeon will determine the best course of action. If you have questions about your eligibility for the BEAR Implant, talk with your surgeon.
What are the benefits of a BEAR Implant procedure?
Unlike typical ACL reconstruction, the BEAR Implant does not require grafts. Meaning there’s only one surgical wound site, not two.
Dr. Tingstad adds that “by retaining normal anatomy and functioning of the knee, patients have less trauma in the knee. This aids in recovery outlooks and returning to activities. We want our patients to not be limited by an injury but be empowered to overcome them.”
What does recovery look like?
Recovery timelines for the BEAR Implant are similar to traditional ACL reconstruction surgery- averaging between seven and nine months. Because the ACL is “regrowing,” mobility is typically more restricted during the first six weeks of recovery; after which, patients then feel more “back to normal” and have better mobility and less restrictions than a surgical graft reconstruction Your surgeon will help determine what physical therapy regimen will work best for you to aid in your recovery.
If you have an ACL injury, Inland Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Clinic can help! The walk-in Express Care Clinic is available at Inland Orthopaedic’s Moscow office on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at their Pullman office on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Skip waiting for a referral and get the care you need now! Visit pullmanregional.org/orthopedic-center-of-excellence to learn more.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study about the BEAR Implant and its effectiveness 2 years post-op that Dr. Tingstad has provided as a reference. See the full article HERE.