Healing of the goat anterior cruciate ligament after a new suture repair technique and bioscaffold treatment

Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Oct;19(19-20):2292-9. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2012.0535. Epub 2013 Jul 10.


Primary suture repair of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) has been used clinically in an attempt to heal the ruptured ACL. The results, however, were not satisfactory, which in retrospect can be attributed to the used suturing technique and the suboptimal healing conditions. These constraining conditions can be improved by introducing a new suturing technique and by using small intestinal submucosa (SIS) as a bioscaffold. It is hypothesized that the suturing technique keep the torn ends together and that SIS enhance and promote the healing of the ACL. The goat was used as the study model. In the Suture group, the left ACL was transected and suture repaired with a new locking suture repair technique (n=5) allowing approximation and fixation under tension. The Suture-SIS group underwent the same procedure with the addition of SIS (n=5). The right ACL served as control. After 12 weeks of healing, anterior-posterior translation and in situ force of the healing ACL were measured, followed by the measurement of the cross-sectional area and structural stiffness. Routine histology was performed on tissue samples. Gross morphology showed that the healing ACL was continuous with collagenous tissue in both groups. The cross-sectional area of the Suture and the Suture-SIS group was 35% and 50% of the intact control, respectively. The anterior-posterior translations at different flexion angles were statistically not different between the Suture group and the Suture-SIS group. Only the in situ force at 30° in the Suture-SIS group was higher than in the Suture group. Tensile tests showed that the stiffness for the Suture group was not different from the Suture-SIS group (31.1±8.1 N/mm vs. 41.9±18.0 N/mm [p>0.05]). Histology showed longitudinally aligned collagen fibers from origo to insertion. More fibroblasts were present in the healing tissue than in the control intact tissue. The study demonstrated the proof of concept of ACL repair in a goat model with a new suture technique and SIS. The mechanical outcome is not worse than previously reported for ACL reconstruction. In conclusion, the approach of using a new suture technique, with or without a bioscaffold to heal the ACL is promising.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Female
  • Goats
  • Tensile Strength
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Wound Healing / physiology