Background: The major concern of using a large animal model to study rotator cuff repair is the high rate of repair retears. The purpose of this study was to test a non-weight-bearing (NWB) canine model for rotator cuff repair research. Methods: First, in the in vitro study, 18 shoulders were randomized to 3 groups. 1) Full-width transections repaired with modified Mason-Allen sutures using 3-0 polyglactin suture, 2) Group 1 repaired using number 2 (#2) polyester braid and long-chain polyethylene suture, and 3) Partial-width transections leaving the superior 2 mm infraspinatus tendon intact without repair. In the in vivo study of 6 dogs, the infraspinatus tendon was partially transected as the same as the in vitro group 3. A radial neurectomy was performed to prevent weight bearing. The operated limb was slung in a custom-made jacket for 6 weeks. Results: In the in vitro study, mean ultimate tensile load and stiffness in Group 2 were significantly higher than Group 1 and 3 (p<0.05). In the in vivo study, gross inspection and histologyshowed that the preserved superior 2-mm portion of the infraspinatus tendon remained intact with normal structure. Conclusions: Based on the biomechanical and histological findings, this canine NWB model may be an appropriate and useful model for studies of rotator cuff repair.
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