Can the dismal success rate of rotator cuff repairs among older patients be improved? Orthopedic researchers and engineers at Washington University in St. Louis are hoping to find out, using a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the natural attachments of tendons, muscles and bones.
Currently only about 6% of the surgical repairs of large tears in older patients succeed, say the researchers. "The natural attachment system is not regenerated during healing, even following surgical repair," says Stavros Thomopoulous, PhD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and one of the research leaders.
The team plans to use a variety of imaging methods to study the tendon-bone attachment. An "understanding [of the] complex natural system may also inspire new approaches for attaching materials in structural engineering," says Dr. Thomopoulous.