On the Upper East Side, trauma surgeon Gregory Difelice claims he’s found a breakthrough when it comes to repairing a torn ACL – that’s the ligament that connects your thigh bone to your shin bone.
“Currently, one size fits all approach to all types of tears, my practice is very different. I base my treatment and my surgeries off of how the ligament is torn and not if its torn,” DiFelice said.
To explain this as simply as possible, the doctor tells me you can tear an ACL in multiple ways.
It can tear in half or it can stay mostly intact while detaching itself from the thigh bone.
The modern day approach to ACL injury for all tear types is to reconstruct the ligament, which means replacing the original tissue with a graft.
But in Difelice’s opinion for the cases where the ACL is still intact, there is no need to replace it. He just pokes a few small holes to stitch the original tissue back to the bone.
“I try and save as much of the native tissue of the ACL as possible, and I only use reconstruction as a last resort, not only does the procedure keep your native tissue, your knee feels more normal your recovery is faster, there is less complications.”
The doctor says other surgeons may be skeptical because his approach is similar to the way this type of surgery was done nearly 40 years ago. He stresses he only uses this approach when the ACL is torn in a specific way.
Patient Jane Lee is walking around just one week after having this kind of surgery. She’s undergone both types and is fascinated by how different the results are of each one.
“The left is an ACL reconstruction. I had done 20 years ago, and the right is an ACL repair that I had done last week,” Lee said. “I am super happy. This is amazing.”
And here’s patient Conrad Van Teenhoven running on a treadmill less than two months after his surgery with Dr. Difelice.
“If you have a healthy existing ligament reattachment, and that leads to a much faster recovery, and that was very interesting for me,” Van Teenhoven said.
The doctor says he has already lectured all over the world. His hope for the future of this minimally invasive surgery is to see it become more widespread and to make it a common practice.