Stories about: ACL reconstruction

Year in review: Our most popular Thriving stories

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As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of the most popular stories — from basic tips to second chances to ground-breaking surgeries. Thank you to the many families and patients who kindly contributed to the success of Thriving in 2016. As always, you inspire us. Happy New Year!

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ACL repair: What it’s like to be first to have a new surgery

Dr. Martha Murray explains bridge-enhanced ACL repair
Dr. Martha Murray explains bridge-enhanced ACL repair

At the beginning of the historically snowy Boston 2015 winter, I took a ski trip to the Green Mountains with some friends. On the morning of our first day, I lost control and, while tumbling to a halt, I heard two pops: One was my right ski-binding opening and the other was my left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupturing.

As a doctoral student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, I found myself exploring treatment options, even before I got the MRI scan to confirm the ACL tear.

I was particularly troubled to hear about the high risk of early-onset osteoarthritis in the injured knee with the current standard surgery.

After following the research, I was encouraged to learn Dr. Martha Murray and her team at Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine had just started recruiting for a first-in-humans safety trial testing a promising new ACL-repair method.

I called Dr. Murray’s research coordinator and sent my MRI results to find out if I was eligible to participate in the trial. Within a few hours, they returned my call. I was eager to learn more.

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Health headlines: Focusing on hospital safety, using zebrafish to understand cancer and fixing ACL tears with a sponge

Cleaning

Boston Children’s Hospital’s doctors and researchers are constantly working to uncover and understand health and medical questions. Health Headlines is a twice-monthly summary of some of the most important research findings and news.

Top news this week includes how hospitals are changing to become safer, how zebrafish are helping cancer researchers make strides and how sponges are being used to repair torn ACLs.

How hospitals are changing to become safer

The New York Times “Opinionator” blog reports patient safety experts say that medical errors are more a function of faulty systems than faulty people. In recent years, with leadership from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, federal programs like the Partnership for Patients and numerous hospitals have made focused efforts to reduce harm.

Scientists watch as healthy cells turn into melanoma

Medscape reports on new research from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Leonard Zon, that finds zebrafish can be used to visually track melanoma as it begins. Researchers believe this work could have significant implications for cancer therapeutics, in that it provides clues for stopping cancer before it even begins.

Can a sponge fix athletes’ knees?

The Wall Street Journal features research from Boston Children’s Dr. Martha Murray, that is currently in the first safety trials in humans. Dr. Murray and Boston Children’s Dr. Lyle Micheli are inserting a sponge roughly the size of a thumb to serve as a bridge between the torn strands of the ACL and flushing it with the patient’s blood. That serves as a stimulus to make a bridge grow essentially encouraging the ACL to repair itself.

Learn more about Boston Children’s ACL Program.

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Nearly 40 years after milestone ACL reconstruction surgery, Puck skis like a kid

WheatonPuck_52650004 (2)“I’ve skied 1.7 million vertical feet in the last five years,” says 36-year-old Philip ‘Puck’ Wheaton. It’s an awful lot of skiing, especially for a guy who was born without an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—the critical ligament that holds the knee together.

When Puck had started walking in 1979, he seemed to wobble a bit—like most toddlers do, says his mother Liz Wheaton. At his 18-month checkup, his pediatrician determined there was more to Puck’s unsteadiness than run-of-the-mill toddler wobbliness. He referred Puck to Lyle Micheli, MD, director of Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Division.

“Dr. Micheli was right on the case and determined that Puck was missing his ACL,” says Liz.

An innovation in ACL surgery

Puck’s condition made for a very challenging surgical dilemma. Surgery to reconstruct torn ACLs was pioneered in the late 1960s, but it required drill holes through the knee. The operation couldn’t be safely performed on growing children because the drill holes could damage the growth plates of the knee and disrupt future leg growth. In fact, no surgeon had attempted ACL reconstruction surgery on a child younger than age two at the time.

Micheli did what the world’s best surgeons do. He improvised and innovated.

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