Surgery on the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) is difficult. The standard surgical procedure involves drilling a tunnel on the tibia to remove the ligament and reconstructing it by using transplanted graft. In most cases, the affected area that has been treated has a good chance of re-tearing after being repaired. However, this technique has many limitations such as entering the knee through the tibia can make it difficult to reattach the ligament to the original attachment point.
Having said this, Dr. Dana Piasecki and the other orthopedic surgeons from the OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine came up with a solution by creating their own 3D printed surgical tool which allows them to drill and follow the normal path of the ligament and attach to the femur. This new tool mimics the natural positioning of the ACL.
The doctors turned to 3D printing to create a complicated tool but save costs on the production. The tool was made from a strong biocompatible metal to accommodate different knee sizes of different patients. The tool was finally manufactured by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. The final tool is a low-cost device that is finally registered by the FDA as a Class 1 medical device.
Currently, the new medical tool dubbed as Pathfinder has 95% success rate when it comes to anchoring grafts to the original ligament. This also made it easier for doctors to carry out ACL surgery. With this tool, many orthopedic patients in need of ACL surgery will have new hope that they will get the best possible treatment that medical science can provide.