Establishment of an in vivo turkey model for the study of flexor tendon repair

Assaf Kadar, Haoyu Liu, Alyssa M. Vrieze, Thomas D Meier, Andrew R. Thoreson, Peter C Amadio, Steven Lawrence Moran, Chunfeng D Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Flexor tendon injuries are common and pose a clinical challenge for functional restoration. The purpose of our study was to assess the adequacy of the turkey as a large animal model for flexor tendon injuries in vivo. Twenty-four male turkeys underwent surgical flexor tendon cut and repair. Turkeys were allocated to five groups postoperatively: (1) foot casted in extension and sacrificed after 3 weeks; (2) foot casted in extension and sacrificed after 6 weeks; (3) foot casted in flexion and sacrificed after 3 weeks; (4) foot casted in flexion and sacrificed after 6 weeks; and (5) foot casted in flexion for 6 weeks and then free roaming allowed for an additional 3 weeks before sacrifice. After sacrifice, digits were collected and analyzed for adhesion formation, healing at the macrolevel and histologically, and biomechanical properties-including friction, work of flexion, stiffness, and strength of repair. All turkeys survived anesthesia and surgery. Tendon rupture occurred in all extension casts and in 11% of those casted in flexion. Friction and work of flexion were significantly higher in the repaired digit than the control digit. There was a correlation between duration of immobilization and repair strength. Histologically, the tendon healed with tenocytes migrating into the gap and producing collagen fibers. We have, for the first time, studied flexor tendon injury and repair using turkeys in terms of anesthesia, surgical procedures, postoperative care, and animal husbandry. The findings regarding functional and histological results from this novel avian model were comparable to the most commonly used mammal model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Animal model
  • Flexor tendon
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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