Arthrex creates orthopedic tool for ACL reconstruction for adolescents

Author: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

A growing number of girls playing sports need an ACL reconstruction.

That’s been problematic until now.

Naples-based Arthrex recently got approval for an orthopedic tool called the ACL TightRope® aimed at the smaller-sized pediatric population.

Bella Stephens, 15, looms large on the basketball court.

She’s been playing for 10 years, but in a game this season something just snapped.

“I was setting up to take a charge. It was like third game in the season. And my knee just like popped. It was it was really loud. it was like, stuck bent. And I definitely knew something wasn’t right,” Bella said.

Bella Stephens, a basketball player, was one of the first to get a procedure done with the TightRope®. (CREDIT: WINK News)

It was her ACL, a ligament that connects the thighbone to the shinbone and stabilizes the knee.

Her season was over.

“It was so hard to like, not be able to like be out there with all my friends,” Bella said.

An ACL tear is a common injury in athletes.

“They occur in young athletes all the time, and particularly more so in women in some studies as much as five times more commonly than men,” said Dr. James Guerra, an orthopedic surgeon.

Guerra repaired Bella’s ACL using a tool that wasn’t available until this year.

“The TightRope┬« is the first ever fixation device for ACL repair that’s specifically been FDA approved for pediatric-aged children. Previously, we were using devices off-label for adults,” Guerra said.

The new instrument is a game-changer. In this instance, size matters.

Arthrex’s TightRope┬« makes it possible to repair the ACL in teens. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The ACL TightRope® takes into account the differences between an adult and child and adapts the tools to fit the space without harming growth plates around the knee, which allows them to avoid the growth plates where they can actually drill straight through the canulation of the device.

Justin Boyle is a product manager with Arthrex, the Naples-based surgery technology company, which created the ACL TightRope®.

It takes a donor tendon, in Bella they used one from her quad, and positions it to function as the ACL, anchoring it, then pulling it tightly to encourage healing.

“They’re going to drill holes in the in the thigh bone, a hole in your shinbone, and then they’re going to pull that piece of tissue inside those two tunnels,” Boyle said.

Arthrex’s TightRope┬« makes it possible to repair the ACL in teens. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Smaller tools guides pinpoint the exact spot and allows the surgeon to precisely target exactly where they want to be when they’re drilling the holes.

Bella was one of the first patients to ever get the ACL TightRope®.

“She has done really well and it’s a testament to just what kind of excellent fixation we get with the pediatric ACL TightRope┬«, that we’re allowed to rehab these kids so quickly,” Guerra said.

After precision surgery, she was able to tackle rehab and get back on the court within eight months.

“I was like I’m gonna be able to play this year,” Bella said.

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