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J Hand Surg Am. 2008 Jan;33(1):102-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2007.09.007.

Tendon: biology, biomechanics, repair, growth factors, and evolving treatment options.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic Research Laboratories, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0159, USA.


Surgical treatment of tendon ruptures and lacerations is currently the most common therapeutic modality. Tendon repair in the hand involves a slow repair process, which results in inferior repair tissue and often a failure to obtain full active range of motion. The initial stages of repair include the formation of functionally weak tissue that is not capable of supporting tensile forces that allow early active range of motion. Immobilization of the digit or limb will promote faster healing but inevitably results in the formation of adhesions between the tendon and tendon sheath, which leads to friction and reduced gliding. Loading during the healing phase is critical to avoid these adhesions but involves increased risk of rupture of the repaired tendon. Understanding the biology and organization of the native tendon and the process of morphogenesis of tendon tissue is necessary to improve current treatment modalities. Screening the genes expressed during tendon morphogenesis and determining the growth factors most crucial for tendon development will likely lead to treatment options that result in superior repair tissue and ultimately improved functional outcomes.

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