The bio-tribological properties of anti-adhesive agents commonly used during tendon repair

J Orthop Res. 2012 May;30(5):775-80. doi: 10.1002/jor.21569. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Frictional resistance to tendon gliding is minimized by surrounding loose areolar tissue. During periods of prolonged immobilization, for example, post-tendon-repair, adhesions can form between these two adjacent tissues, thereby limiting tendon function. Anti-adhesive agents can be applied during surgery to prevent adhesion formation, whilst reportedly providing some reduction in friction during in vitro tendon-bony pulley investigations. This bio-tribological study evaluates whether application of these agents can improve the lubrication between the tendon and surrounding tissue, thus potentially reducing the risk of re-rupturing the tendon at the repair site. The use of bovine synovial fluid (BSF) enabled an approximation of the in vivo lubrication regime, and subsequent comparison of the performance of three synthetic agents (50 mg/ml 5-fluorouracil; 5 mg/ml hyaluronic acid; ADCON-T/N). Coefficient of friction data was recorded and then compared with the Stribeck curve. BSF generated a fluid film that separated the two surfaces, giving rise to optimal lubrication conditions. This efficient regime was also generated following application of each anti-adhesion agent. The use of phosphate-buffered saline solution in generating only a boundary lubrication regime highlighted the effectiveness of the agents in reducing friction. Hyaluronic acid (5 mg/ml) was marginally deemed the most effective anti-adhesive agent at lubricating the tendon. Subsequently, it is concluded that the application of anti-adhesive agents post-surgery has secondary, tribological benefits that serve to reduce friction, and thus potentially the risk of failure, at the tendon repair site.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrates / therapeutic use
  • Cattle
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Hyaluronic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Polymers / therapeutic use
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Synovial Fluid
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Tissue Adhesions / prevention & control*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Polymers
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Fluorouracil