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Effects of Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound on Tendon–Bone Healing in an Intra-articular Sheep Knee Model

      Purpose: This study reports the mechanical and histologic properties of intra-articular tendon–bone healing with the application of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) in an ovine knee model. Methods: A single digital extensor tendon autograft from the right hoof was used as the graft in 89 adult sheep. Femoral fixation was achieved with an EndoButton (Smith & Nephew Endoscopy, Andover, MA) and tibial fixation by tying over a bony post. LIPUS treatment was performed daily for 20 minutes over the femoral and tibial tunnels until sacrifice in all groups, apart from the 26-week group, which was treated only for the first 12 weeks. Histology was performed at 3, 6, 12, and 26 weeks. Mechanical testing was performed at 6, 12, and 26 weeks. Results: The LIPUS-treated group showed increased cellular activity at the tendon–bone interface and general improvement in tendon–bone integration and vascularity. Stiffness and peak load were greater compared with the control group at 26 weeks after surgery (P < .05). Conclusions: The application of LIPUS appears to improve healing at the tendon–bone interface for soft tissue grafts fixed with a suspensory fixation technique. Histology supports a benefit based on increased integration between tendon and bone and a biologically more active interface, which would account for the improved mechanical properties. Clinical Relevance: The indications of LIPUS may be expanded to include tendon–bone healing, for example, in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

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