The application of a new technique for injuries of the cruciate ligament in the knee, involving the use of bipolar radio-frequency plus heat, has proved to be 90% effective in cases and shortens the recovery time of the patient. This technique, carried out by specialists at the Navarre University Hospital Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has received the National Prize for Research into Sports Medicine, awarded annually by the University of Oviedo. 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.
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