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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1999 Jul-Aug;8(4):339-44.

Thermal modification of collagen.

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  • 1Sports Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Medicine Associates (SOAR), Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.


Shoulder capsular shrinkage has recently been proposed as a therapeutic modality in a select group of patients with instability. Basic science research studying the mechanism of collagen shrinkage and the effect of shrinkage on the tissue's mechanical properties is essential to define the ideal process by which to achieve optimal tissue shrinkage. Tissue shrinkage is a function of both time and temperature. This relationship was studied, and a model was derived to describe the relationship mathematically. Tissue shrinkage rate was extremely sensitive to temperature changes. The purpose of this study, was to shrink collagenous tissue thermally and then to measure the mechanical property changes as a function of tissue shrinkage. Uniaxial tensile testing of normal and heat-shrunken bovine tendon was carried out, and a model was developed to express the relationship between shrinkage and mechanical properties. We found that the mechanical properties decreased with increasing shrinkage, and that the maximal allowable shrinkage before significant material property changes occurred was between 15% to 20%. Ultrastructural analysis with transmission electron microscopy showed denaturation of the collagen fibrillar structure and provided direct support for the observed material changes.

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