New ACL Surgery Shows Promise for Lessening Pain, Recovery Times

Research at Marshall University offers alternative

We’ve all heard of four-letter words, but for athletes it’s three little letters that are the most feared: A-C-L.

The injuries have stopped countless seasons and impacted hundreds of careers, from scholastic sports to the highest levels. But a new study at Marshall University (WV) shows promise for reducing pain and recovery time from surgery.

The study’s leader, Dr. Chad Lavender, calls the process a ‘fertilized’ ACL as the patient’s own stem cells are injected along with a bone graft into small tunnels that surgeons drills into the tibia in order to reach the affected ligament.

A brace is applied internally and attached to bone to strengthen the knee and hopefully quicken rehabilitation.

Dr. Lavender has performed about 30 such procedures since Marshall Health’s development of the process last year, and recovery times have averaged about 6-7 months. Also, patients report less pain during the early portion of rehab, with an average pain score of 1.5 after two weeks, zero at six weeks—and painkillers utilized only immediately following surgery.

“There are early advantages to fertilized ACL reconstruction, such as decreased pain,” said Lavender, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery. “When this is combined with biologics, we may be able to accelerate rehabilitation and return to play.”


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