PURPOSE: One of the great challenges in surgical tendon rupture repair is to minimize peritendinous adhesions. In order to reduce adhesion formation, a physical barrier was applied to a sutured rabbit Achilles tendon, with two different immobilization protocols used postoperatively.
METHODS: Thirty New Zealand white rabbits received a laceration on the Achilles tendon, sutured with a 4-strand Becker suture, and half of the rabbits got a DegraPol tube at the repair site. While fifteen rabbits had their treated hind leg in a 180° stretched position during 6 weeks (adhesion provoking immobilization), the other fifteen rabbits were recasted with a 150° position after 3 weeks (adhesion inhibiting immobilization). Adhesion extent was analysed macroscopically, via ultrasound and histology. Inflammation was determined histologically. Biomechanical properties were analysed.
RESULTS: Application of a DegraPol tube reduced adhesion formation by approximately 20%--independently of the immobilization protocol. Biomechanical properties of extracted specimen were not affected by the tube application. There was no serious inflammatory reaction towards the implant material.
CONCLUSIONS: Implantation of a DegraPol tube tightly set around a sutured tendon acts as a beneficial physical barrier and prevents adhesion formation significantly--without affecting the tendon healing process.