This study's purpose was to assess the in vivo effect of auto-crosslinked hyaluronic acid (HA) gel, a natural HA derivative with increased viscosity and tissue residence time, on adhesions and healing of injured and surgically repaired rabbit digital flexor tendons. The second and third right deep digital flexor tendons from 48 rabbits (n = 96 tendons) were cut and repaired with a modified Kessler and running peripheral suture. Animals were randomized to two groups, receiving either HA gel or saline injected around both freshly repaired tendons. After 2, 3, 6, and 12 weeks, six rabbits in each group were euthanized. Tendon pull-out force and breaking strength were measured as a value for adhesion formation and tendon healing, respectively. A histological assessment of adhesions and healing was related to the mechanical results.Asignificantly faster increase in breaking strength was found in HA gel-treated compared to saline-treated tendons; this coincided with a significantly accelerated tissue repair response after injury. No significant difference in adhesion formation was found between the two groups at any time. Our results indicate a significant acceleration of in vivo healing of tendons treated with HA gel. Adhesion formation was unaffected. These results could have important clinical value in promoting rehabilitation after tendon injury.

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Journal of Orthopaedic Research: a journal for musculoskeletal investigation
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Wit, T., de Putter, D., Tra, W., Rakhorst, H., van Osch, G., Hovius, S., & van Neck, H. (2009). Auto-crosslinked hyaluronic acid gel accelerates healing of rabbit flexor tendons in vivo. Journal of Orthopaedic Research: a journal for musculoskeletal investigation, 27(3), 408–415. doi:10.1002/jor.20730