Healing of the patellar tendon donor defect created after central-third patellar tendon autograft harvest. A long-term histological evaluation in the lamb model

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 1999;7(6):340-8. doi: 10.1007/s001670050177.


Patellar tendon donor defect (PTDD) healing after patellar tendon autograft (PTA), was evaluated in 12 lambs (24 knees), by means of conventional histology, immunohistochemistry and image analysis. The results of this study indicate that the PTDD is replaced by a tissue that does not assume the histological characteristics of a normal patellar tendon. Both the Hoffa fat pad (HFP) and the paratenon play an important role in the healing process, although qualitative and quantitative chronological differences were found, which supports the concept of a "two-time process". The HFP initiates the repair process, and is the main active proliferative tissue compartment during the first week. Once the process is established, the paratenon and, in particular, its synovial lining, starts proliferative activity and virtually substitutes that of the HFP, which rapidly loses activity in a few days. Moreover, donor-site morbidity after PTA could be the result of histological changes in the patellar tendon and environs in only a few cases. We have found inflammatory and neural changes in the refilled PTDD that could explain the anterior knee pain after PTA. Likewise, we have observed loss of Golgi corpuscles in the refilled PTDD, which could lead to proprioceptive loss after ACL reconstruction with PTA. Finally, we have observed shrinkage of the PTDD scar that could contribute to the etiopathogenia of a patella infera.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / pathology*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Male
  • Patella / pathology*
  • Patella / surgery
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Sheep
  • Tendons / pathology*
  • Tendons / surgery
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Wound Healing* / physiology