New radio-frequency technique for knee injuries

February 24, 2005

The awarded work, "Retraction of anterior cruciate ligament using bipolar radio-frequency", was penned by five doctors at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The prize-winning clinical research proposes the use of bipolar radio-frequency, plus the heat obtained thereof, to carry out retraction (tensing of the ligament); always when this is an ongoing process. These ligaments contain a lot of water and collagen fibres which shrink and tense on applying heat to them at a certain radio-frequency. The technique is carried out by arthroscopy, with specialised terminals, applying between 40 and 50 degrees of heat to the slack ligament. With this treatment, recuperation being much shorter and with a high percentage of probability of success, always when it is undertaken with the correct and exact procedures. Patients who suffer from a partial ligament injury and/or slack ligament can benefit from this surgical technique which tenses the ligament again and, over a short period of time - not more than three months - can return to sporting activity once again.

Project trials were carried out on thirty patients/sportspersons under controlled conditions at the Navarre University Hospital Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, in collaboration with the Radiology Service at the hospital. The patients were subjected to magnetic resonance studies over a period of at least year after the retraction. From these studies, satisfactory results were obtained in 90% of the patients. The remaining patients were able to benefit from more traditional treatment techniques, but with longer recuperation periods. It would appear to be the case that the technique is more effective with persons who practise sport regularly as a hobby, and in middle-aged patients and veteran sportspersons with knees somewhat deteriorated.

One of the most serious and common injuries is that of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), typical in football and skiing, but also in other sports where sudden turns, violent contacts and twists of the knee can take place. The rupture of this ligament is relatively frequent and, for professional sportspersons, may mean being out of competition sport for between six to eight months, with the social and economic repercussion that this entails. If the lesion is total - with a complete break of the ligament - the usual surgery has to be undertaken involving the graft from another ligament or tendon to replace the injured tissue. This has to be followed by long months of recovery until the new graft has acquired a suitable consistency and transforms into a new ACL.
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Elhuyar Fundazioa

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