If you play sports of any kind long enough and hard enough throughout your life, chances are, you may experience a knee injury. Sports such as soccer, snow skiing, ice hockey and football are everyday American pastimes that, unfortunately, will put many athletes - and otherwise active people - on crutches at some point in time. Depending on the patient, getting on with life after a knee injury is as important as getting back in the game.
While there are four major ligaments within the knee, it is most common to hear about ACL injuries. These are often associated with the ski slopes and many other types of sports and most people know someone that has recently had his knee "scoped". However, less discussed are injuries associated with the medial collateral ligament (the MCL), located on the inner side of the knee joint. These actually represent more than 24 percent of all knee injuries. Painful tears and trauma to the MCL occur predominantly in young athletic patients with the injury involving contact to the outside of the knee, external rotation, or combined force impacts seen in such sports where knee flexion is present.
Researchers at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) in Vail have extensively studied the biomechanics of injuries associated with the MCL to develop and validate a new reconstruction technique that improves outcomes for patients treated for this injury. Dr. Robert LaPrade, complex knee injury surgeon and director of the Biomechanics Research at the Institute, along with Deputy Director and Senior Staff Scientist Dr. Coen Wijdicks, recently published their findings.
This novel procedure represents an anatomic technique to repair the damaged ligament and restore it back to its natural state. For athletes and active individuals, this means a more superior outcome because it conforms better with the other structures of the knee and provides the same dynamic range of motion that the natural ligament allowed, Wijdicks said.
"An anatomic MCL reconstruction technique can restore native stability to the knee that has an acute or chronic medial knee injury,"LaPrade said. "Through biomechanical testing, we were able to evaluate the exact position and mechanics of the ligaments in healthy knees. During the procedure, a tendon from the patient (an "autograft") is used to reconstruct the injured ligament by placing it in the exact location replacing torn structures with tissue at their natural attachment points."
For years there have been MCL knee treatments available, but using an anatomic reconstruction approach is the most effective for long-term viability, LaPrade said. For individuals suffering MCL trauma, this provides great hope.
Using an autograft during the procedure is an important aspect because in many foreign countries, where tissue banks do not exist, this provides a practical approach. SPRI developed this MCL reconstruction technique with the goal of making it possible for orthopaedists around the world to perform the surgery with available resources.
Visit www.sprivail.org for more information.
While there are other medial collateral ligament (MCL) treatments available, the Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) believes its technique is most effective long-term. Kristy M. Theis is a freelance writer and senior editor for eMedical Media, which is contracted by the Institute.