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Am J Sports Med. 1991 Jul-Aug;19(4):347-54.

The effects of increased tension on healing medical collateral ligaments.

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  • 1University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Orthopaedics, Denver 80262.


The effects of motion and increased levels of stress on the biomechanical, biochemical, and morphological properties of healing medial collateral ligaments were assessed in a rabbit model. In one group, the medial collateral ligament of the left hindlimb was transected and allowed to heal with cage activity for either 6 or 12 weeks. In another group, the transected ligaments were permitted to heal for 4 weeks and then were placed under increased stress by inserting a stainless steel pin perpendicularly underneath the healing medial collateral ligament. The animals were allowed cage activity for an additional 2 or 8 weeks. The varus-valgus joint laxity and the stress-strain properties of the medical collateral ligament substance were obtained. Further, the quantity of total collagen, amount and ratio of the collagen cross-links, dihydroxylysinonorleucine and hydroxylysinonorleucine, and the histologic appearance of the healing medical collateral ligaments were evaluated for all groups. At 6 weeks, knees with a transected medial collateral ligament were twice as lax as the controls. However, joints with the stainless steel tension pin had varus-valgus values approximately 1.5 times those of the controls. At 12 weeks, joints with increased stress were not statistically different from the controls. The group that had healing with increased stress for 12 weeks produced the highest stress for a given strain compared to any other group. Also, the total collagen levels and the ratio of dihydroxylysinonorleucine/hydroxylysinonorleucine were the closest to normal of any transected group. Finally, qualitative histologic improvements were seen, including a more longitudinal arrangement of collagen fibers and decreased cellularity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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