Can an ACL Stem Cell Shot Replace Surgery?

The single biggest MRI result that we see day in and day out that never ceases to amaze me is a postinjection image after stem cells have been injected into a trashed ACL. While the images look fantastic, usually showing ACLs that have transformed themselves from tattered messes into something resembling a normal ligament, many surgeons who perform ACL-reconstruction surgeries for a living have questioned whether these stem-cell-injected ACLs could ever hold up during sports. So this morning I’ll share an image plus the report of a competitive beach-volleyball player and avid Telemark skier who received an ACL stem cell shot in the knee.

ACL surgery does have its problems, but before we look at these, let’s review the ACL. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a main ligament of the knee. It allows for precise movement and provides stability in the knee. The ligament attaches at the bottom of the femur bone (the long upper-leg bone), stretches through the middle of the knee, and connects to the top of the tibia bone (the larger lower-leg bone). The rotation and the front-back motion of the knee are controlled by the ACL, and this control is what gives the knee its stability. If the ACL becomes injured or torn, common in athletes and people involved in activities that put a lot of pressure on the knees, the knee can become unstable.

Orthopedic surgeons will usually recommend an invasive surgery called ACL reconstruction in which the old ligament is removed and a graft is inserted in its place. However, a knee with a reconstructed ACL will never function like it did prior to your injury. Why? Some of the ACL surgery problems I’ve shared here over the years follow:

Many people also believe ACL reconstruction will minimize the risk of arthritis, but this is not true. Not only does ACL surgery not prevent or minimize the risk of knee arthritis, but it may even accelerate the onset.

Now, let’s look at David’s experience following his ACL stem cell shot and his before and after images above.

David first saw us just three weeks before he was scheduled for an ACL reconstruction (ACLR). He told Dr. Markle that two weeks prior to that visit he had heard an audible pop in his knee while Telemark skiing. He had already been evaluated by two orthopedic surgeons, with MRIs showing an ACL tear. They both wanted to operate, so he had the surgery scheduled, but then he heard about Regenexx and wanted to see if he was a candidate for our novel Perc-ACLR procedure (percutaneous ACL repair).

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