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New Innovative ACL Healing Technology at Shriners Children’s Philadelphia

Doctor Waldron

Sean R. Waldron, M.D., after completing his first BEAR® Implant surgery


When young athletes have an injury, it is important for them to be seen in a timely matter, so that they are given all of their options to get them back on the field as soon as possible. This is especially important with knee injuries.

Knee injuries in children are rising as kids become more involved in high-level athletics at earlier ages. The complexity of these injuries has increased as well. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears have become more and more common in the pediatric population. Because children are not simply “small adults,” the treatment of these injuries requires the expertise of a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee injuries.

At Shriners Children’s Philadelphia, we are excited to announce that we are now offering a new technology called the BEAR® Implant, which stands for Bridge Enhanced ACL Repair. The BEAR Implant is the first medical advancement granted approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that enables the body to heal its own torn ACL. This new approach is a paradigm shift from ACL reconstruction and is the first innovation in ACL tear treatment in more than 30 years.

Historically, orthopedic surgeons have had limited options in treating a torn ACL. With today's standard of care regarding ACL reconstruction, the surgeon completely removes the remaining torn ACL and reconstructs it with either a tendon from the patient’s own leg (called an autograft) or a deceased donor (called an allograft).

Unlike reconstruction, the BEAR Implant does not require a second surgical wound site to remove a healthy tendon from another part of the leg, or the use of a donor tendon. The BEAR Implant acts as a bridge to help ends of the torn ACL heal together. The surgeon injects a small amount of the patient’s own blood into the implant and inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL in a minimally invasive procedure. The combination of the BEAR Implant and the patient’s blood enables the body to heal the torn ends of the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the femur and tibia. As the ACL heals, the BEAR Implant is resorbed by the body within approximately 8 weeks.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that the BEAR Implant restores torn ACL quality and size similar to a patient’s non-injured ACL. Compared with autograft ACL reconstruction, it also has shown faster recovery of muscle strength and higher patient satisfaction with regard to readiness to return to sport.

Sean R. Waldron, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, is now leading the way by offering this breakthrough technology at Shriners Children’s Philadelphia. If your athlete has an ACL injury, call 215-430-4000 to schedule a consultation to determine if they might be a good candidate for the BEAR Implant.

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