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J Orthop Res. 2005 Nov;23(6):1441-7. Epub 2005 Aug 1.

Delayed repair of tendon to bone injuries leads to decreased biomechanical properties and bone loss.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopaedic Research, School of Medicine, Washington University, 1 Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza, Suite 11300, Campus Box 8233, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. galatzl@wustl.edu

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Repair of the torn rotator cuff tendon is a common procedure performed in the shoulder. In the clinical setting, a significant delay between rotator cuff tear and subsequent repair often exists. The purpose of this study was to investigate the biomechanical properties and bone density of the tendon to bone repair site after acute and delayed repair.

METHODS:

The supraspinatus tendons in bilateral shoulders of 60 rats were transected from the bone. In the acute group, the tendons were immediately repaired with suture. In the delayed group, the tendons were allowed to retract and repaired in a second procedure after a 3-week delay. Cross sectional area and biomechanical properties were evaluated. Bone density of the humeral head was assessed using peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Histologic sections were obtained and examined.

RESULTS:

At 10 days the repair tissue displayed vascular and fibroblast proliferation accompanied by predominantly mononuclear infiltrate. At 28 days the inflammatory process gradually decreased. No significant histologic differences were noted between the acute and delayed repair specimens. Cross-sectional area was higher in the delayed group at the early time points (44% at 10 days and 31% at 28 days). Viscoelastic properties were greater in the acute group at the early time points and significantly less at the latest time point, compared to the delayed group. Bone density was markedly decreased (8% and 12%, 28 and 56 days respectively) in the delay group.

DISCUSSION:

Inferior rotator cuff healing was demonstrated when there was a delay between injury and repair. Viscoelastic properties of the acute repairs were increased compared to the delayed group at 10 days, indicating tendon stiffening during the 3-week delay before repair. Viscoelastic properties of the acute repairs were decreased compared to the delayed group at 56 days indicating deterioration of properties over time in the delayed group. The deterioration in properties in the delayed group coincide with bone density decreases in the greater tuberosity. These results indicate that bone loss may a significant factor in poor healing.

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