Intrinsic flexor-tendon repair. A morphological study in vitro.

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Rabbit flexor tendons with a 90 per cent mid-section transverse laceration demonstrated the intrinsic capacity to participate in the repair process in the absence of extrinsic cell sources and without the benefit of nutrition from a circulating blood supply or the influence of synovial fluid. Two cellular processes were involved in the in vitro repair process: (1) phagocytosis occurred by differentiation of fibroblasts from the epitenon--the cells migrated into the repair site and removed cellular debris and collagen fragments, and (2) collagen synthesis occurred primarily within the endotenon cells. Clinical Significance: The results of this experimental study support the concept that flexor tendons have the intrinsic capacity to phagocytize old collagen and synthesize new collagen fibrils. Consequently, clinical attempts to prevent or control the peripheral adhesions appear valid, since these adhesions do not appear to be an essential component of the repair process.

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