25-Year-Old's Disaster Knee Saved by BioKnee Program

So my name is Ben Levitt. I'm from Toronto, Canada and I had a full BioKnee done. So I had a torn acl, I had an articular cartilage paste graft, a meniscus transplant, and then an additional procedure, uh, I forget exactly the name of it, but an additional procedure on the side for additional stabilization.

So the whole works. So my first injury was playing college football in Canada. I tore that in 2017. Had that reconstructed in Canada. Tore about five months into that recovery. But my physiotherapist and my surgeon in Canada both said I was fine. So I went on playing and living for like three or four years being my typical very active self and I was shredding apart my, my cartilage and my meniscus. So once the pandemic hit, I couldn't stay strong around the knee. So I really started to notice where my pain was coming in because I just couldn't stay strong with lifting weights.

And so I finally went and got an MRI and I was right all along. I had re-torn it. And so I was left with a new problem because not only had I torn the ACL again because of that time with all that instability, I shredded apart my meniscus and a ton of my cartilage. And so I went and saw a bunch of different surgeons, got a ton of different options, but all of them gave me pretty grim prognosis. Basically saying You can get back to some of what you like, but it'll probably always be painful. And so I actually went ahead and did a revision surgery in 2021 and that was, uh, it never felt right coming out of it. And I think in retrospect a lot of that has to do with because they never really dealt with the meniscus, they actually took out even more.

So at this point, I had almost no media meniscus, which created an ACL-deficient knee is what I was told. And basically made that whole thing rupture again. So about eight months into my second reconstruction, I then had to go back to the drawing board once again, once I was given my new MRI, except this time the surgeons in Canada that I went and spoke to were even more grim. They basically said, you're more or less done doing anything you want to do. If you want to to do this, we can go do the surgery again, but it'll be even worse than you had it before. And you're probably looking at a full knee replacement in the next five to 10 years. And I was 25 years old hearing this, so that was quite depressing. Uh, so I went back to the drawing board, went searching across the internet.

I looked for surgeons in like every country you could possibly think of. I reached out to a ton, got some word back, some I didn't. And then eventually had a virtual consultation with stone. And I think the biggest thing for me that sold me on the whole idea was when he saw my MRI and how we responded so differently than every other surgeon I had dealt with, where it wasn't like, oh, you're out of luck here. You're life's over. It was very calming. Yeah, this is what we have, this is the solutions that we have to solve. Those come and we'll, we'll do it essentially the first ever injury in 2017, my life has not been the same since that point, unfortunately. And I think a lot of it had to do with poor surgical intervention at the time and then just the fall from all of that because when one thing's off within your knee, everything starts to go and it becomes deteriorative.

So I think that whole experience led me to, after my second reconstruction, cuz it was even more compromised. I was in so much pain, I couldn't even really walk. And it was a, I was on a trip where I was in Mexico cause I worked completely remotely. So I was there with some friends and it was doing a ton of walking and so I was walking probably between five and 15 kilometers a day. And that made my knee excruciatingly painful. I couldn't even enjoy the nice weather because my knee was constantly on my pain. It hurts, I can't even describe it. I wouldn't have wished that on my worst enemy. And so that really scared me because hearing, remembering what the other surgeons had said and then now thinking about the pain I'm experiencing every day, it made me really scared to think about the future.

And so I can say even now, I'm only seven weeks post my operation with Dr. Stone and the pain's substantially better. I have so much work to do to get back to the things that I love. But even right now I can say I was walking around all today and I haven't had pain and I couldn't say that for the past year or so. So that even in and of itself is huge for quality of life. And I'm looking forward to seeing how far I can push it in terms of getting back to the things I was told I would never do again. I was so hyped up about how bad it was cause I'd been told so many times and to him, it was like nothing. I remember actually coming to see him and being very, very low in saying like, oh, is this the worst you've ever seen?

And he almost laughed and I was like, it ended up so comforting to me because I'd been told time and time again that this was like an awful situation and, and there's no chance for return. And he lit, literally laughed at me thinking that this was the worst he's ever seen. Which was really in a weird way, cool. So if you just injured yourself and you're figuring out, okay, I gotta navigate these waters, I think the best thing that you can do is be your own advocate. Take the time to make sure you're making the right decision for you for all of the areas that, that, that matter to you and that you actually feel heard and and answered in all those things. And if that's not the case with the current surgeon you're dealing with, understand there are more out there. So go, go find someone who gives you that kind of level of support. Cuz I really wish I did the first time. But uh, you live and you learn.

So Ben's a classic example of a major knee ligament injury that unfortunately ruptures the ACL, damages other structures in the knee, gets a surgery that then is re-injured or doesn't quite work out as well. And presents to us with a complex knee injury of, of ligament re-rupture, loss of the meniscus, damage to the articular cartilage, and rotational instability of the knee because once the ACL is out and has been out for a while, either the joint develops more stretching out of the side tissues or they were injured at the initial time of injury and not recognized. So he presents the complete bio knee program where we need to rebuild the acl, replace the meniscus, graft the articular cartilage, and do an extra-articular reconstruction on the side of the knee to stop that excess rotation. Fortunately, each of those procedures went well and we believe his, uh, future is to be able to return to full sports with a good athletic knee. And we hope that these types of techniques will spread not just from the Stone Clinic here in San Francisco where we've developed a lot of expertise around them, but we travel around the country and teach other surgeons that these complex knee injuries can be rebuilt, the tissues can be replaced. It's not the end of the patient's athletic career.

If you just injured yourself, I think the best thing that you can do is be your own advocate. Take the time to make sure you're making the right decision for yourself in all the areas that matter to you and that you actually feel heard and answered in all those things.
- Ben Leavitt

Ben tore his ACL & meniscus for the first time at age 20 playing football. During the rehab of that initial surgery, he tore it again but it went unnoticed by his surgeon and physical therapists. This resulted in Ben remaining very active on an unstable knee, creating more damage & instability within the knee. A complex situation like Ben's was best treated with biologic knee replacement or a BioKnee®. In this procedure, Dr. Stone regrows or replaces structures of the knee biologically to restore the natural function and stability of the joint. 

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Saving My Knee Guide

Saving My Knee Guide
Learn about procedures that can help you return to sports & delay or avoid an artificial knee replacement.