Mechanical properties of primate vascularized vs. nonvascularized patellar tendon grafts; changes over time

J Orthop Res. 1989;7(1):68-79. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100070110.


Mechanical properties of patellar tendon autografts used to replace the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the cynomolgus monkey were measured at four time periods up to 1 year. The ACL was replaced in each knee with the medial half of the patellar tendon: as a vascularized graft (VG) on one side and as a nonvascularized or free graft (FG) on the other. Postoperative care consisted of 4 weeks of cast immobilization at 30 degrees flexion followed by unrestricted activity in a large cage. Both grafts showed low stiffness and maximum force at 7 weeks (24% and 16% of ACL control values, respectively), increasing to 57% of control ACL stiffness and 39% of control maximum force by 1 year. Corresponding material properties, modulus and maximum stress, also increased over time, but at 1 year were only 34% and 26% of ACL values, respectively. The results indicate that retaining vascularity does not prevent significant reduction in graft properties that occur postoperatively, nor does it accelerate the return in strength and stiffness. Tissue stiffness, which returns earlier than maximum force and joint anteroposterior (AP) force displacement data, should be routinely reported in any healing study. Finally, in studies of this kind, the large variation in the results makes sampling only one or two animals from each time period unreliable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Patella / blood supply
  • Patella / physiopathology
  • Patella / transplantation*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Tendons / blood supply
  • Tendons / physiopathology
  • Tendons / transplantation*
  • Time Factors