Awarded Grant Traumatic Injury Biomechanics
Description: The knee is the most frequently treated joint by orthopedic surgeons. Those suffering from knee ligament injuries have a significantly increased risk of generating a long-term, chronic disease such as osteoarthritis (OA). Each year, 80,000 knees suffer acute tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the United States, with health care costs totaling nearly one billion dollars. Yet, surgically reconstructing a torn ACL has not proven to significantly reduce the incidence of OA. Occult microcracks are diagnosed via magnetic resonance imaging of the traumatized joint in more than 80 percent of ACL trauma cases. Relatively few studies have investigated the long term consequences of the documented acute injury to cartilage overlying these occult microcracks.
For this study, researchers will propose that these occult microcracks result from excessive compressive overloading of the joint, which causes the ACL to rupture in the human cadaver model; that this level of acute mechanical trauma may cause gross surface lesions and damage to articular cartilage with associated death of tissue cells, which leads to joint OA in an animal model; and that early pharmacological intervention for the traumatized joint, repairing damaged cell membranes, will help delay or mitigate the development of a post-traumatic OA in the joint. The results of this research can show that surgical reconstruction of ruptured knee ligaments, such as the ACL, can stabilize the traumatized joint and lead to a satisfactory long-term outcome.