Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered a new, minimally invasive treatment for osteochondral ankle lesions, an injury that can occasionally occur as a result of a simple ankle sprain.
Osteochondral ankle lesions can occur after a traumatic injury, such as a sprained ankle. They occur when there is a fracture or tear in the cartilage surrounding the ankle bone, causing severe pain when weight is put onto the injured ankle. Typical treatments in the past relied on cartilage grafts, an invasive surgical procedure that left patients unable to walk for six to eight weeks followed by an additional six to eight weeks with a surgical boot.
However, this new treatment, discovered by a research team at Mount Sinai headed by Dr. Ettore Vulcano, involves injecting bone substitute matter into the injury site. This process circumvents invasive procedures, meaning the recovery time would be reduced. Dr. Vulcano commented to Newswise.com on his theories surrounding the treatment:
“I do not believe the actual cartilage lesion is the source of pain. Therefore, my hypothesis was that if I address the bone bruising with bone substitute without even touching the cartilage or trying to regenerate cartilage, the patient will get pain relief.”
The new treatment was tested on eleven patients with osteochondral ankle lesions following an ankle sprain. In 90% of cases, patients were able to bear weight on the injured ankle immediately following the procedure. One patient could even run after only three weeks of recovery. This success rate is comparable to the standard rate of success with the existing surgical treatment, however, the recovery time has been dramatically reduced.
This new treatment for osteochondral ankle lesions would greatly reduce recovery time for the patients suffering from this common injury, often young athletes who are looking for as quick a recovery as possible. With reports estimating that 25,000 Americans suffer from a sprained ankle each day, this revolutionary treatment could have more people back up on their feet as soon as possible.