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Knee surgery aid for sports injuries

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A new device could improve the success rate for surgery on a knee injury that has afflicted sports stars such as Michael Owen, scientists have said.

Researchers studying the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee have developed a mechanism that could help fix the problem.

ACL injuries are particularly common in sportsmen and women but also affect others, with 11,000 people a year needing surgery for the problem in the UK each year.

Dr Bin Wang, who led the team at Aberdeen, said: “The NHS performs around 11,000 ACL reconstructions per year but the procedure is not universally successful, with failure rates of five to 25% often resulting in further surgery and long term problems. The main cause of this is loss of graft fixation within the tibia in the early post-operative period.

“GraftBolt aims to improve the patient’s quality of life by successfully repairing their injury first time and improving the quality of bonding of the graft to the bone, which speeds up the healing of the graft implant and hence improves the patient’s rehabilitation.”

The team was recently awarded the 2011 PraxisUnico’s Collaborative Impact Award for innovation.

Intellectual property rights for the GraftBolt are owned by the NHS and it is licensed to a leading US orthopaedic device company, Arthrex Inc, which has developed the device into a commercially viable product.

The product is expected to be available to the NHS later this year.

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