METHODS: Upper limb tendons were harvested with consent from patients with crush injuries and non-replantable amputations. These tendons (both extensor and flexor) measuring 1 cm are sutured to either side of a 0.5 cm synthetic tendon strip and cultured in growth medium. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks, samples were fixed into paraffin blocks, cut and stained with haematoxylin-eosin (H&E) and Masson's trichrome.
RESULTS: Minimal tendon ingrowth were seen in the first 2 weeks of incubation. However at 4 weeks, the cell ingrowth were seen migrating towards the junction between the tendon and the synthetic scaffold. This ingrowth continued to expand at 6 weeks and up to 8 weeks. At this point, the demarcation between human tendon and synthetic scaffold was indistinct.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that tendon ingrowth composed of collagen matrix were able to proliferate into a synthetic scaffold in vitro.