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Dr. Dragoo has treated tens of thousands of athletes in his over 16 years of practice. Even though he uses advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques, he feels strongly that the best patient outcomes are achieved through closely supervised, aggressive rehabilitation as well as re-injury prevention programs. He meets with all surgical patients the day after surgery to discuss the results of the surgery and the rehabilitation protocol. This ensures a seamless transition from surgery to rehabilitation. The local physical therapists will then aide patients from outlying areas to transition the “rehabilitation plan” to a physical therapist in their hometown.

Surgery should be as least invasive as possible. Dr. Dragoo believes that if surgery is performed, such as harvesting a portion of a tendon for an ACL reconstruction, there should be as little tissue disruption as possible. He replaces the bone that was harvested by using bone graft and he repairs the neighboring tendon and the nutrient layers of the tendon and uses plastic surgery closure technique. Photos of this less invasive surgical approaches can be seen in the pictures below.

  • Treatment Philosophy picture1
  • Treatment Philosophy picture2

Enable the body to heal its own injuries. The tissues in our body that heal well, such as the skin and bone, do so because of a robust blood supply. However, other tissues, such as cartilage in our knee and shoulder, do not heal as well. Dr. Dragoo has been developing new methods to improve healing through regenerative medicine. For example, he has discovered that certain biologics such as PRP, otherwise known as platelet rich plasma, do not aid in muscle injury healing. However, he found that PPP, otherwise known as platelet poor plasma, leads to muscle regeneration in the laboratory. We are now using this technology in the clinic to treat our athletes. Another example of this philosophy is an overuse tendon injury known as tendinopathy. Dr. Dragoo’s research has revealed that certain genes are activated in these cells producing the changes of tendinopathy. He is now researching biologic factors that can help heal these abnormal tendons back to normal.

We should not just concentrate on treating an injury, but also understand how the injury or disease occurred so we can attempt to prevent it from happening again. Dr. Dragoo calls this the 30,000-foot view. Understanding the joint environment and the reasons that the injury or disease occurred in the first place is central to preventing future injury, recurrence or degeneration. This treatment approach may lead to not only a resolution of the symptomatic injury, but also can correct the conditions that created the injury in the first place.

Procedures Pioneered by Dr. Dragoo

Dr. Dragoo has been a thought-leader in Orthopedics for the past 16 years. He has created new surgical techniques that have helped advance the field of sports and regenerative medicine. Please select the links below so see the original research for each procedure listed below.

  • Minimally invasive meniscal root repair for patients with moderate osteoarthritis. This technique dramatically shortens operative time, avoids creating bone tunnels as well as extra incisions compared to current techniques. Click here to see more information.
  • Arthroscopic technique for cartilage transplantation. This technique prevents the need for an arthrotomy (large incision) to perform cartilage transplantation techniques. This technique is also use for mesenchymal cellular (previously termed “stem cell”) procedures to treat cartilage defects. Click here to see more information.
  • Technique to perform revision ACL reconstruction in 1 surgical procedure versus the standard 2-staged approach. This technique prevents a second surgical procedure and eliminates the 4- month period of continued instability after the 1st bone grafting stage that has been associated with meniscal injury. Click here to see more information.
  • Arthroscopic harvest of "stem cells" from the knee. This minimally invasive technique uses small incisions to harvest portions of the fat pad located in the knee to enable processing of the tissue for cell therapy procedures. The term "stem cells" is no longer used. Click here to see more information.
  • Technique to treat cartilage defects in the knee from cells derived from fat tissue. This paper represents the first evidence that fat derived cells (formerly called adipose derived stem cells) can heal cartilage injury. Click here to see more information.
  • University of Arizona
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • U.S. Ski & Snowboard
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Stanford University
  • Biological Association
  • AANA Advancing the Scope