Researchers Hope to Identify "Window of Opportunity" for Preventative Treatment

Researchers from the University of Delaware have announced receipt of a grant from the National Institutes of Health to initiate a new study of the relationship between anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery and subsequent development of osteoarthritis (OA). The research will be led by Thomas Buchanan, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, and Lynn Snyder-Mackler, professor of physical therapy. The two have more than 15 years’ collaborative experience in the study of postsurgical ACL outcomes, and previous work has suggested that postsurgical patients may develop unusual gait mechanisms. It has been noted that up to 60% of ACL surgery recipients go on to develop OA within 5 years of their procedure.

Dr. Buchanan observed “ACL injury typically affects active young adults participating in sports like basketball, football, skiing, and soccer. Although they’re not experiencing symptoms at this point, X-rays show evidence of early-stage OA. And chances are that within another 5 to 10 years, they’re going to need knee replacement surgery, which is not an option for people that young.” With the NIH grant, the team plans to conduct 3-, 6-, and 24-month evaluations of patients following ACL surgery, looking at biomechanical and biochemical changes that occur. Using finite element modelling, the study will also attempt to pinpoint how loading and biochemical change affect pressure on the cartilage.

Read a news story about the study here.



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