My column regarding ACL ruptures appeared last Friday. That afternoon, I received the following inquiry and comment from a reader, regarding the prognosis and possible early preventive interventions for a significant knee injury.

“I am one of relatively few patients who has had the Bone Marrow Concentrate treatment for a fully-torn (not-retracted) ACL tear and to date, I’ve had what I’d consider to be an amazing recovery.  I read your latest blog post and just thought I’d let you know that I’m back to very aggressive skiing (including small but non-trivial jumps).  However, I did want to ask, if you would be willing to comment, if there are actions or periodic diagnostics, you’d recommend to maximize the chances that I’m still happy skiing 10,20,30 years after the injury?  I understand you probably can’t comment but nevertheless wanted to let you know I was also a real-life person who had a significant knee trauma with multiple surgical consults all agreeing it was fully torn and required surgery (to return to high-level skiing) and now have a fairly normal looking ACL in MRI (per independent radiologist) and am back to 100% with activities that require a lot of knee stability.  I did do two rounds of same-day BMA reinjections and a bunch of platelet injections but no surgery.”

The answer is an orthopedic assessment at three-year intervals to look for markers of post traumatic osteoarthritis such as loss of terminal extension and asymmetrical flexion. The MRI is helpful in detecting moderate arthritic changes but the latest development, the needle scope, allows an orthopedic surgeon to directly examine the meniscus and cartilage in an office setting. The concern is post traumatic arthritis, cartilage defects that will progress, and meniscal damage not always seen on the MRI. Here are some thoughts on early intervention with Cellular Orthopedic and Regenerative Medicine options.

A recent Study Compared the Efficiency of Needle Arthroscopy Versus MRI for Meniscal Tears and Cartilage damage. Needle arthroscopy (NA) may be a less costly and more accurate option for diagnosis and treatment of meniscal tears and early onset post traumatic arthritis than MRI, according to a study published in the February issue of Arthroscopy. Researchers collected data on costs for care and accuracy, including procedures for both false-positive and false-negative findings well as private payer reimbursement rates. They compared outcomes using the global knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score (KOOS). Patients were followed and evaluated over a two-year period. 

There are several restorative options now available when conservative therapies for the treatment of knee degenerative processes, such as non-pharmacological interventions, systemic drug treatment, and intra-articular therapies offer only short-term benefits or fail. Before resorting to surgery; be aware that encouraging preliminary results have been reported using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), either alone or in association with surgery. My clinical published research documents success with using your Bone Marrow Concentrate for joint restoration and combating progression of posttraumatic arthritis. Additionally, I have published an article concerning another source for joint restoration, micro-fractured adipose tissue. The latter has created a huge interest in the context of cartilage regeneration due to its wide availability, ease to harvest and richness in mesenchymal cell elements within the so called stromal vascular fraction. Moreover, MSCs from adipose tissue are characterized by marked anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties, which make them an excellent tool for regenerative medicine purposes.

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