What is the Scope of the Ongoing UPMC Research on ACL Reconstructive Surgery?

We asked Dr. Freddie Fu, M.D., David Silver professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, to answer one of your health questions.

Q: What is the scope of the ongoing UPMC research on ACL reconstructive surgery?

A: The ACL is the main stabilizer of the knee and perhaps is most known as a ligament commonly torn by athletes. Each year, most of the 200,000 ACL reconstructive surgeries performed produce successful outcomes initially; however, long-term studies have shown that 60 to 80 percent of patients will end up with joint instability and osteoarthritis within five to seven years after surgery.

With the support of a $2.86 million grant from the National Institutes of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skins Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health), UPMC’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery will conduct a study to compare patient outcomes of two types of anatomically correct ACL reconstructive surgeries: anatomic single-bundle and anatomic double-bundle. Though more research is necessary to compare the outcomes of these two anatomic procedures, preliminary studies showed that both processes restore knee anatomy and function better than the one-size-fits-all approach of the ACL surgery that’s typically performed today.

The study will be led by Drs. James Irrgang and Scott Tashman and I, and will follow subjects who undergo either single- or double-bundle ACL reconstruction. We will assess subjects’ dynamic joint function and clinical outcomes in addition to their reported symptoms, function and activity.

Successful completion of the study will help define the roles of anatomic single- and double-bundle ACL reconstruction in restoring knee function. The main goal is to improve the standard of care for ACL reconstructive surgery patients by helping them maintain joint health over time and achieve better long-term results.

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