Scientists Use Tissue Matrix for Damaged Ligament Reconstruction

Researchers from The Ohio State University recently reported that a new ligament reconstruction technique involving a tissue matrix product permits early ligament healing and helps to stabilize the damaged joint.

Ligaments function to stabilize joints and injury to collateral ligaments can result in joint instability and osteoarthritis--a painful and progressive deterioration of articular cartilage with no known cure.

Small intestinal submucosa (a specific tissue layer of the intestine) derived from pigs is a natural, biodegradable matrix that provides a scaffold for ligament repair, researchers said.

According to Alicia L. Bertone, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS from the Comparative Orthopedic Research Laboratory at The Ohio State University, this was the first study to determine the applicability and efficacy of porcine small intestinal submucosa in ligament reconstruction in horses.

"Since rupture of the collateral ligament of the fetlock is a well-recognized injury in horses, this was the model of choice to study ligament repair," said Bertone.

Ten healthy, sound horses underwent complete surgical transection of the lateral collateral ligament of one fetlock joint. Each of the ligaments was reconstructed with a strip of small intestinal submucosa in six of the horses, while the remaining four horses were used as controls.

After eight weeks, horses in the treatment group had significantly less joint laxity (weakness) and an increased tissue repair density and ligament fiber alignment, compared to horses in the control group.

"In addition, the small intestinal submucosa alleviated lateral joint laxity at the time of surgery and minimized this laxity for the reminder of the study period," explained Bertone.

The results of this study indicate that this reconstruction technique could improve early ligament healing and contribute to joint stability following in horses with acute ligament injuries.

"Metacarpophalangeal collateral ligament reconstruction using small intestinal submucosa in an equine model" was published as an abstract in the January 2008 edition of Veterinary Surgery and as a full article in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. Contributing authors were Bertone; Goin, MD; Kamei DVM; Mattoon DVM; Litsky MD, DSc; Weibrode VMD, PhD; Clarke, MSc; Plouhar, PhD; and Kaeding MD.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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