Jury out on revolutionary knee surgery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jury out on revolutionary knee surgery

By Guy Hand 28/05/2008 06:30:04 PM Comments (0)

A leading AFL doctor has urged caution for players and clubs considering fast-fixing knee reconstructions using artificial ligaments despite the apparent success for Sydney backman Nick Malceski.

Malceski recently completed a remarkable return from knee reconstructive surgery just three months after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a pre-season practice match in February.

The Swans sent Malceski to a French surgeon who used synthetic fibres to rebuild the knee, while Fremantle defender Luke Webster had a similar procedure last month.

But despite a recovery which takes a fraction of the usual year-long rehabilitation period for traditional reconstructions, Dr John Orchard said the procedure was "quite risky", and he would be loath to recommend it to his patients until more was known.

Orchard, the co-author of the AFL's annual injury report, said it was too early to make a call on whether Malceski's return - and using synthetic ligaments to reconstruct knees - was a success.

"I would still say if I had a patient who asked me should I go and have this operation, I would say it is quite risky given the track record with artificial ligaments," Orchard said.

"The track record with artificial knee ligaments - and most of them were done 20 years ago - is not great.

"About 50 per cent of them failed, and not many have been done in the interim.

"About 85 or 90 per cent of traditional ACL reconstructions are successful, which means they hold up in the long-term.

"If the new generation of artificial ligaments approaches that 85 to 90 and the players get back a lot quicker, then it will certainly become a revolution.

"With one case of a player getting back and having played two games, it's far too early to say whether that success rate can be achieved."

Orchard and Dr Hugh Seward of the AFL Medical Officers Association released their annual report into AFL injuries, which showed a reduction in head and neck injuries and ruckmen's posterior cruciate ligament injuries.

But hamstring and groin injuries are up - and they remain the most prevalent injuries in AFL.

AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the lower incidence of head and neck injuries was a direct result of the league's crackdown on head-high contact.

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