Central Vermont Medical Center Becomes First Hospital in Vermont to Offer Innovative Implant to Treat ACL Tears

Release Date: 
April 19, 2023

Implant First Innovation in ACL Tear Treatment in 30+ Years; Enables Injured ACL to Heal Itself

BERLIN, Vt. – Central Vermont Medical Center is the first hospital in Vermont to offer an innovative treatment for tears of the anterior cruciate ligament – one of the most common knee injuries across the U.S. The BEAR® Implant is the first medical advancement to enable the body to heal its own torn ACL.

J.P. Begly, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center, performed the first surgery in Vermont using this novel approach last month. The BEAR implant is a major shift from the current standard of care – a reconstruction that replaces the ACL with a graft from another part of the body.

“It is exciting new technology in the sports medicine realm,” Begly said. “Overall, this surgery involves less incisions, is more minimally invasive, and often has less pain associated with it post-surgery.”

Approximately 400,000 ACL injuries occur in the U.S. every year. Because a torn ACL does not heal without treatment, ACL reconstruction is one of the most common orthopedic procedures in the U.S. But the traditional procedure has drawbacks; some procedures require two separate incisions, and some people who undergo reconstruction are unable to return to the same level of daily activities or sports.

“With the BEAR Implant, you can experience healing of your own ACL, rather than undergo a procedure that requires replacement of the ACL from another part of the body,” Begly said. “If your tear qualifies for the BEAR Implant, this new technology could be a huge help in your recovery back to the sports and activities that you love.”

A typical ACL reconstruction surgery requires surgeons to completely remove the remaining torn ACL and reconstruct it with either a tendon from the patient’s own leg or a deceased donor. About half of people who receive patellar tendon grafts experience pain while kneeling, and those who receive hamstring grafts have persistent weakness – as much as a 50% deficit at two years after surgery.

The BEAR Implant does not require a second surgical wound site to remove a healthy tendon from another part of the leg or the use of a donor tendon. Instead, the BEAR Implant acts as a bridge to help ends of the torn ACL heal together. The surgeon injects a small amount of the patient’s own blood into the implant and inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL in a minimally invasive procedure. The combination of the BEAR Implant and the patient’s blood enables the body to heal the torn ends of the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the femur and tibia. As the ACL heals, the BEAR Implant is resorbed by the body, within approximately eight weeks.

The BEAR Implant was granted De Novo Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is indicated for skeletally mature patients at least 14 years of age with a complete rupture of the ACL.

Patients should discuss their individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment with their surgeon. The BEAR Implant has the same potential medical/surgical complications as other orthopedic surgical procedures, including ACL reconstruction. These include the risk of re-tear, infection, knee pain, meniscus injury and limited range of motion.