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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Histologic and biomechanical evaluation of the thoracolumbar fascia graft for massive rotator cuff tears in a rat model

Open AccessPublished:November 11, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2021.10.019
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      Abstract

      Background

      Fascial autografts, which are easily available grafts, have provided a promising option in patients with massive rotator cuff tears. However, no fascial autografts other than the fascia lata have been reported, and the exact healing process of the fascia-to-bone interface is not well understood. The objective of this study is to histologically and biomechanically evaluate the effect of the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) on fascia-to-bone healing.

      Methods

      A total of 88 rats were used in this study. Eight rats were sacrificed at the beginning to form an intact control group, and the other rats were divided randomly into 2 groups (40 rats per group): the thoracolumbar fascia augmentation group (TLF group) and the repair group (R group). The right supraspinatus was detached, and a 3*5 mm defect of the supraspinatus was created. The thoracolumbar fascia was used to augment the torn supraspinatus in the TLF group, whereas in the R group, the torn supraspinatus was repaired in only a transosseous manner. Histology and biomechanics were assessed at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 weeks postoperatively.

      Results

      The modified tendon maturation score of the TLF group was higher than that of the R group at 8 weeks (23.00 ± 0.71 vs. 24.40 ± 0.89, P=.025) and 16 weeks (24.60 ± 0.55 vs. 26.40 ± 0.55, P≤.001). The TLF group showed a rapid vascular reaction, and the peak value appeared at 1 week. Later, the capillary density decreased, and almost no angiogenesis was observed at 8 weeks postoperatively. Immunohistochemistry results demonstrated a significantly higher percentage of collagen I in the TLF group at 4, 8 and 16 weeks (24.78% ± 2.76% vs. 20.67% ± 2.11% at 4 weeks, p=.046; 25.46% ± 1.77% vs. 21.49% ± 2.33% at 8 weeks, p=.026; 34.77% ± 2.25% vs. 30.01% ± 3.17% at 16 weeks, p=.040) postoperatively. Biomechanical tests revealed that the ultimate failure force in the TLF group was significantly higher than that in the R group at the final evaluation (29.13 ± 2.49 N vs. 23.10 ± 3.47 N, p=.022).

      Conclusions

      The TLF autograft can promote a faster biological healing process and a better fixation strength. It could be used as an alternative reinforcement or bridging patch when the fascia lata is not appropriate or available for SCR.

      Level of evidence

      Basic Science Study; Histology and Biomechanics

      Keywords:

      Thoracolumbar fascia (Fascia-to-bone healing), Massive rotator cuff tear (Histology), Biomechanics (Rat model)