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J Biomech. 2007;40(3):561-8. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

The role of repair tension on tendon to bone healing in an animal model of chronic rotator cuff tears.

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McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, 424 Stemmler Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6081, USA.


Rotator cuff tendon tears are one of the most common shoulder injuries. Although surgical repair is typically beneficial, re-tearing of the tendons frequently occurs. It is generally accepted that healing is worse for chronic tears than acute tears, but the reasons for this are unknown. One potential cause may be the large tensions that are sometimes required to repair chronically torn tendons back to bone (i.e., repair tension). Therefore, the objective of this study was to utilize an animal model of chronic rotator cuff repairs to investigate the role of increased repair tension on tendon to bone healing. We hypothesized that an increase in repair tension would be related to detrimental changes to the healing insertion site. To test this hypothesis, the supraspinatus tendon of rats was surgically detached and then repaired immediately or after a delay of 2, 4, or 16 weeks. The repair tension was measured using a tensiometer and the mechanical properties, collagen organization, and protein expression of the healing insertion site were evaluated 4 and/or 16 weeks following repair. We found that the repair tension increased with time following detachment, and was related to a decrease in the failure properties and viscoelastic peak stress and an increase in cross-sectional area and stiffness of the insertion site. Therefore, repair tension should be minimized in the clinical setting. Future studies will include additional animal model studies involving the relationship between tension and muscle properties and a clinical study investigating the role of repair tension on repair failure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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