Saving Kids' Knees

August 26, 2009 7:30:25 PM PDT
Teen athletes don't always play for fun -- they play to win. With state titles and college scholarships on the line, more kids are pushing themselves and their bodies to the limit. But all that practice and training can take a toll on young bodies, especially knees. Doctors are trying new ways to save their knees now ... so they can continue to play later.Nathan Green knows it takes a lot of foot work and hard work to become a top player.

"I'm just kind of good at it, so it just kind of stuck," Green told Ivanhoe.

But his dreams of college soccer were almost wiped out when he tore his ACL. Traditional surgeries would damage the growth plates. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Eric Wall developed a tendon reconstruction at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to keep Green in the game. He used Green's hamstring tendon to create a new ACL. The new procedure avoids any contact with his growth plate.

"In an adult, the tunnel goes up ... and crosses through the growth plate," Dr. Wall said. "This way, the tunnel goes horizontally across his knee, and the tunnel is drilled beneath the growth plate so it doesn't touch the growth plate, or doesn't cross the growth plate," Dr. Wall told Ivanhoe.

Jacob Sorger suffers from a less common but just as painful problem -- juvenile osteochondritis dissecans, or JOCD, which is caused by pressure on immature bones.

"I couldn't even walk up the steps when I got home, it was hurting that bad," Sorger told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Wall took a bone graft from Sorger's hip and transferred it into his knees with a small tube.

"That bone graft supplies stem cells to grow new bone, and it supplies bone cells to grow new bone," Dr. Wall said. "This is the one chance we have to actually cure a problem and get the knee back to normal."

Now both boys are back up and running. Rehab took about six months before they were able to play soccer, but that's better than their other option -- which would be to not play at all.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Jim Feuer
Public Relations
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
(513) 636-4656

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