[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Central third of patellar tendon (PT) is used as an autograft for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Previous studies investigated temporal changes in material properties of healing tissues in PT after resection of the central third. However, no study has been performed on effects of stress shielding (SS) and restressing (RS) on the properties of healing tissues. The present study hypothesised that SS adversely affects the mechanical integrity of healing tissues, which is recovered by subsequent RS. An entire rectangular defect was created in the central third of rabbit PT. Operated PTs were subjected to either SS or no stress shielding (NSS). A subgroup of stress-shielded PTs was followed by the resumption of normal loading, namely RS. Tensile properties of tissues regenerated in the defect and residual tendons were evaluated. Regenerated tissues of SS for 3 weeks resulted in significantly lower strength than NSS, which was recovered to NSS level by 3 weeks of RS. Strength of residual tissues in RS reversed SS effects, leading to the strength at NSS level after 12 weeks. However, tangent modulus of residual tissues in RS was still significantly lower than that of NSS at 12 weeks. Therefore, SS induces detrimental effects on the mechanical integrity of healing PTs, and the response to RS was different between regenerate and residual tissues, the latter of which took longer period to reach NSS level.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Journal of Biomechanics