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J Orthop Res. 2012 Jul;30(7):1112-7. doi: 10.1002/jor.22043. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Extended healing validation of an artificial tendon to connect the quadriceps muscle to the Tibia: 180-day study.

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Surgical Energetics LLC, Covington, Kentucky, USA.


Whenever a tendon or its bone insertion is disrupted or removed, existing surgical techniques provide a temporary connection or scaffolding to promote healing, but the interface of living to non-living materials soon breaks down under the stress of these applications, if it must bear the load more than acutely. Patients are thus disabled whose prostheses, defect size, or mere anatomy limit the availability or outcomes of such treatments. Our group developed the OrthoCoupler™ device to join skeletal muscle to prosthetic or natural structures without this interface breakdown. In this study, the goat knee extensor mechanism (quadriceps tendon, patella, and patellar tendon) was removed from the right hind limb in 16 goats. The device connected the quadriceps muscle to a stainless steel bone plate on the tibia. Mechanical testing and histology specimens were collected from each operated leg and contralateral unoperated control legs at 180 days. Maximum forces in the operated leg (vs. unoperated) were 1,400 ± 93 N (vs. 1,179 ± 61 N), linear stiffnesses were 33 ± 3 N/mm (vs. 37 ± 4 N/mm), and elongations at failure were 92.1 ± 5.3 mm (vs. 68.4 ± 3.8 mm; mean ± SEM). Higher maximum forces (p = 0.02) and elongations at failure (p=0.008) of legs with the device versus unoperated controls were significant; linear stiffnesses were not (p=0.3). We believe this technology will yield improved procedures for clinical challenges in orthopedic oncology, revision arthroplasty, tendon transfer, and tendon injury reconstruction.

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