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Rotator cuff tendon pathology is thought to account for 30-70 % of all shoulder pain. For cases that have failed conservative treatment, surgical re-attachment of the tendon to the bone with a non-absorbable suture is a common option. However, the failure rate of these repairs is high, estimated at up to 75 %. Studies have shown that in late disease stages the tendon itself is extremely degenerate, with reduced cell numbers and poor matrix organisation. Thus, it has been suggested that adding biological factors such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) and mesenchymal stem cells could improve healing. However, the articular capsule of the glenohumeral joint and the subacromial bursa are large spaces, and injecting beneficial factors into these sites does not ensure localisation to the area of tendon damage. Thus, the aim of this study was to develop a biocompatible patch for improving the healing rates of rotator cuff repairs. The patch will create a confinement around the repair area and will be used to guide injections to the vicinity of the surgical repair. Here, we characterised and tested a preliminary prototype of the patch utilising in vitro tools and primary tendon-derived cells, showing exceptional biocompatibility despite rapid degradation, improved cell attachment and that cells could migrate across the patch towards a chemo-attractant. Finally, we showed the feasibility of detecting the patch using ultrasound and injecting liquid into the confinement ex vivo. There is a potential for using this scaffold in the surgical repair of interfaces such as the tendon insertion in the rotator cuff, in conjunction with beneficial factors.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur cell mater

Publication Date





344 - 357


Cell Adhesion, Cell Line, Cell Movement, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Materials Testing, Polydioxanone, Rotator Cuff, Tendons, Wound Healing