SNHS Spotlight: “BEAR” Procedure Advances Sports Medicine

The anterior cruciate ligament, better known as the ACL, is the tissue in our body that connects the thigh to the shin and knee. This ligament is responsible for the movement in our knee. A sudden twist can cause this ligament to sprain, tear, or rupture completely. The process to repair this ligament is long and dreadful for most athletes who just want a quick recovery. In December 2020 a less invasive surgery and quicker recovery was discovered. The Bridge-Enhanced ACL Restoration (BEAR) method found a more natural way of ACL reconstruction. Instead of harvesting a graft from our shin and sewing it into the knee, this method places a “protein-based sponge, prepared with some of the patient’s own blood, between the torn ACL ends”(Murray). This natural way to repair the ACL simulates it to heal itself. The blood connects the ACL pieces that tore to the sponge inserted and then to each other. With this new way of healing the ACL there is less pain for the patients and a quicker recovery rate. Instead of 6 months of recovery time to heal and get stronger, the BEAR implant is replaced with native cells and blood vessels within 8 weeks and continues to strengthen itself over time. The BEAR implant can be used for many ACL tear types such as proximal avulsion, proximal, mid-substance, distal, and distal avulsion. BEAR has impressive clinical results that show it provides better hamstring strength at 6 and 12 months and shows a trend of fewer contralateral tears at 2 years. 

This procedure is easy and reproducible. It was tested on more than 100 patients and “BEAR performed as well as the standard repair” (Murray). What makes this procedure easily performed is there is no need for donor tissue or any special requirements for the implant. The only three requirements to have this procedure done is you must be at least 14 years old and skeletally mature, a complete rupture of the ACL confirmed by an MRI, and be able to undergo surgery within 50 days of rupturing the ACL. In the United States, 100,000 to 200,000 incidents of ACL tears have been reported. The BEAR procedure is the future of sports medicine. It’ll help athletes get back on the court or field quicker than ever and strengthen their bodies even more.


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By: Bryana Saenz, SNHS Member

Image Source: Orthospine News

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