Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures are common injuries, specifically for young athletes, and in order to repair this injury, the patients must undergo ACL reconstructive surgery. This surgery commissions the use of autografts and allografts in order rebuild the torn ligament. Traditional autografts are the patellar tendon autograft, which is the most common, and the hamstring autograft. These grafts are made by transplanting tissue from the patellar tendon or the hamstring to the ruptured ACL. Allografts are another type of graft that involves transplanting tissue from a donor cadaver to the patient. Traditional autografts and allografts have been used for years even though they have nagging side effects such as donor site morbidity, loss of muscle strength, disease transmission, and graft rejection. However, now orthopedic doctors are looking into tissue-engineered grafts in order to circumvent these problems.
Tissue-engineered grafts are made of synthetic material, such as collagen, and stem cells. Theoretically, these grafts would not have the same problems that traditional autografts and allografts have, but research has shown that tissue-engineered grafts have their own drawbacks as well. The most glaring problem with tissue-engineered grafts is that they are not very durable, so graft failure is a common side effect. Orthopedic doctors are working on ways to improve the strength of tissue-engineered grafts, but these improvements have not been successfully tested on humans yet. Therefore, as of today, tissue-engineered grafts are not recommended as a successful alternative to traditional autografts and allografts.
Braxton, Amber, "Tissue-Engineered Grafts: The Future of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstructive Surgery" (2019). BIO 410 Spring 2019 Research Papers. 4.