Use of stem cell bearing sutures in foot and ankle surgery

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Advances continue to be made in our understanding of the biology of tendon repair, increasing the potential clinical applications of stem cell scaffold technology. Stem cell bearing suture is closest on the horizon, with studies using a rat Achilles tendon model showing increased early biomechanical strength. Further nanofiber technology and additional augmentation of stem cells through genetic engineering or exogenous growth factors show potential as the field continues to innovate. All of the studies reviewed here from the past year are limited to bench and animal models, but eventually, with appropriate safeguards in place, we anticipate a transition to clinical trials as evidence gradually accumulates. Until then, stem cell scaffold technology continues to offer orthopaedic surgeons the theoretical promise of effective, targeted delivery of biologic adjuvants for faster tendon healing and earlier rehabilitation.

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