Stem Cells Improve ACL Recovery

December 1, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

MRI shows injections can both accelerate healing time and improve range of motion.

Stem cell treatment can speed up recovery from reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and can lead to a better range of more for patients, new research has revealed.

By using bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) that contains concentrated stem cells, patients can have better outcomes at nine months, said study co-author Ophelie Lavoie-Gagné, an orthopedics research assistant from Rush University.

This is the first study to look at BMAC augmentation in ACL reconstruction, and it was presented at this year’s RSNA annual meeting.

“Given the high incidence of ACL tears, management of the condition has significant consequences for athletes’ return to play,” she said.

In this randomized control trial, the team enrolled 43 patients who had no significant differences in gender, age, and the time to injury. Patients either had a BMAC injection into an ACL allograft or they had a sham incision with ACL reconstruction. The bone marrow aspirate, harvested from the anterior-superior iliac crest and concentrated via centrifuge, was injected into the allograft.

The team performed MRI scans on the participants post-operatively at three months and nine months. According to their findings, patients who received the BMAC injections demonstrated a significantly higher signal intensity in the inferior third of the allograft. In addition, these patients self-reported higher outcomes measures, as well as a greater range of motion on physical exam.

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