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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1999 Jan;7(1):29-40.

Biomechanics of integrative cartilage repair.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0412, USA.


Cartilage repair is required in a number of orthopaedic conditions and rheumatic diseases. From a macroscopic viewpoint, the complete repair of an articular cartilage defect requires integration of opposing cartilage surfaces or the integration of repair tissue with the surrounding host cartilage. However, integrative cartilage repair does not occur readily or predictably in vivo. Consideration of the 'integrative cartilage repair process', at least in the relatively early stages, as the formation of a adhesive suggests several biomechanical approaches for characterizing the properties of the repair tissue. Both strength of materials and fracture mechanics approaches for characterizing adhesives have recently been applied to the study of integrative cartilage repair. Experimental configurations, such as the single-lap adhesive test, have been adapted to determine the strength of the biological repair that occurs between sections of bovine cartilage during explant culture, as well as the strength of adhesive materials that are applied to opposing cartilage surfaces. A variety of fracture mechanics test procedures, such as the (modified) single edge notch, 'T' peel, dynamic shear, and trouser tear tests, have been used to assess Mode I, II, and III fracture toughness values of normal articular cartilage and, in some cases, cartilaginous tissue undergoing integrative repair. The relationships between adhesive biomechanical properties and underlying cellular and molecular processes during integrative cartilage repair remain to be elucidated. The determination of such relationships may allow the design of tissue engineering procedures to stimulate integrative cartilage repair.

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