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In vivo assessment of high-molecular-weight polyethylene core suture tape for intra-articular ligament reconstruction

an animal study

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Options for the treatment of intra-articular ligament injuries are limited, and insufficient ligament reconstruction can cause painful joint instability, loss of function, and progressive development of degenerative arthritis. This study aimed to assess the capability of a biologically enhanced matrix material for ligament reconstruction to withstand tensile forces within the joint and enhance ligament regeneration needed to regain joint function.

Materials and Methods

A total of 18 New Zealand rabbits underwent bilateral anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction by autograft, FiberTape, or FiberTape-augmented autograft. Primary outcomes were biomechanical assessment (n = 17), microCT (µCT) assessment (n = 12), histological evaluation (n = 12), and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis (n = 6).


At eight weeks, FiberTape alone or FiberTape-augmented autograft demonstrated increased biomechanical stability compared with autograft regarding ultimate load to failure (p = 0.035), elongation (p = 0.006), and energy absorption (p = 0.022). FiberTape-grafted samples also demonstrated increased bone mineral density in the bone tunnel (p = 0.039). Histological evaluation showed integration of all grafts in the bone tunnels by new bone formation, and limited signs of inflammation overall. A lack of prolonged inflammation in all samples was confirmed by quantification of inflammation biomarkers. However, no regeneration of ligament-like tissue was observed along the suture tape materials. Except for one autograft failure, no adverse events were detected.


Our results indicate that FiberTape increases the biomechanical performance of intra-articular ligament reconstructions in a verified rabbit model at eight weeks. Within this period, FiberTape did not adversely affect bone tunnel healing or invoke a prolonged elevation in inflammation.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:1238–1247.

Correspondence should be sent to S. Kakar; email:

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