Achilles tendon injuries are somewhat common for professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes, and they are usually treated surgically. Torn tendons are reattached or patched with sutures.
A research group from Union Memorial Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland has discovered that depositing stem cells onto sutures can lead to faster healing after surgery that also leads to stronger tendons.
Such a finding can lift the spirits of those who have had the misfortune of healing from an Achilles tendon repair procedure, Often, the patient has to keep their leg immobilized for days after surgery, and even after rehabilitation, tendon rupture remains a nagging risk.
This study showed, however, that when compared with traditional Achilles tendon repair surgery, laboratory animals that had mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow embedded in their sutures healed faster and had tougher tendons that resisted post-surgical rupture.
Another bonus from this study was that the stem cells stayed in the tendon and promoted healing during the period when the patients are unable to their leg. Limb immobilization can cause muscle and tendon atrophy and may also cause adhesions. These can affect how strong and functional the muscle and tendon are after reattachment.
Not only did the stem cells encourage faster healing, by the tendon strength was great in the stem cell-treated group after four weeks. Hopefully these pre-clinical trials will give way to clinical trials with human patients.