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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Apr;92(4):586-94. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B4.22371.

Histological evaluation of repair of the rotator cuff in a primate model.

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Department of Orthopaedic and Traumatic Surgery, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales 2065, Australia.


The establishment of a suitable animal model of repair of the rotator cuff is difficult since the presence of a true rotator cuff anatomically appears to be restricted almost exclusively to advanced primates. Our observational study describes the healing process after repair of the cuff in a primate model. Lesions were prepared and repaired in eight 'middle-aged' baboons. Two each were killed at four, eight, 12 and 15 weeks post-operatively. The bone-tendon repair zones were assessed macroscopically and histologically. Healing of the baboon supraspinatus involved a sequence of stages resulting in the reestablishment of the bone-tendon junction. It was not uniform and occurred more rapidly at the sites of suture fixation than between them. Four weeks after repair the bone-tendon healing was immature. Whereas macroscopically the repair appeared to be healed at eight weeks, the Sharpey fibres holding the repair together did not appear in any considerable number before 12 weeks. By 15 weeks, the bone-tendon junction was almost, but not quite mature. Our results support the use of a post-operative rehabilitation programme in man which protects the surgical repair for at least 12 to 15 weeks in order to allow maturation of tendon-to-bone healing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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