Low molecular weight heparin impairs tendon repair

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2008 Mar;90(3):388-92. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.90B3.19493.


Thrombin has many biological properties similar to those of growth factors. In a previous study, we showed that thrombin improves healing of the rat tendo Achillis. Low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) inhibits the activity and the generation of thrombin. We therefore considered that LMWH at a thromboprophylactic dose might inhibit tendon repair. Transection of the tendo Achillis was carried out in 86 rats and the healing tested mechanically. Low molecular weight heparin (dalateparin) was either injected a few minutes before the operation and then given continuously with an osmotic mini pump for seven days, or given as one injection before the operation. In another experiment ,we gave LMWH or a placebo by injection twice daily. The anti-factor Xa activity was analysed. Continuous treatment with LMWH impaired tendon healing. After seven days, this treatment caused a 33% reduction in force at failure, a 20% reduction in stiffness and a 67% reduction in energy uptake. However, if injected twice daily, LMWH had no effect on tendon healing. Anti-factor Xa activity was increased by LMWH treatment, but was normal between intermittent injections. Low molecular weight heparin delays tendon repair if given continuously, but not if injected intermittently, probably because the anti-factor Xa activity between injections returns to normal, allowing sufficient thrombin stimulation for repair. These findings indicate the need for caution in the assessment of long-acting thrombin and factor Xa inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Achilles Tendon / surgery*
  • Animals
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Factor Xa / analysis
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / adverse effects*
  • Injections
  • Models, Animal
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing


  • Anticoagulants
  • Autoantibodies
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Factor Xa