Effects of sodium hyaluronate on tendon healing and adhesion formation in horses.

Authors: Gaughan EM, Nixon AJ, Krook LP, Yeager AE, Mann KA, Mohammed H, Bartel DL.

References: Am J Vet Res. 1991 May;52(5):764-73.

Sodium hyaluronate reduces adhesions after tendon repair in rodents and dogs, and has been used in limited clinical trials in people. To evaluate its effect on tendon healing and adhesion formation in horses and to compare these effects with those of a compound of similar visco-elastic properties, a study was performed in horses, using a model of collagenase injection in the flexor tendons within the digital sheath. Eight clinically normal horses were randomly allotted to 2 groups. Adhesion formation between the deep digital flexor tendon and the tendon sheath at the pastern region was induced in the forelimbs of all horses. Using tenoscopic control, a 20-gauge needle was inserted into the deep digital flexor tendon of horses under general anesthesia and 0.2 ml of collagenase (2.5 mg/ml) was injected. The procedure was repeated proximally at 2 other sites, spaced 1.5 cm apart. A biopsy forceps was introduced, and a 5-mm tendon defect was created at each injection site. Group-A horses had 120 mg of sodium hyaluronate (NaHA) gel injected into the tendon sheath of one limb. Group-B horses had methylcellulose gel injected at the same sites. The contralateral limbs of horses in both groups served as surgical, but noninjected, controls. Horses were euthanatized after 8 weeks of stall rest. Ultrasonographic evaluation revealed improved tendon healing after NaHa injection, but no difference in peritendinous adhesion formation. Tendon sheath fluid volume and hyaluronic acid (HA) content were greater in NaHA-treated limbs. Gross pathologic examination revealed considerably fewer and smaller adhesions when limbs were treated with NaHA. However, significant difference in pull-out strengths was not evident between NaHA-treated and control limbs. Histologically, the deep digital flexor tendon from the NaHA-treated limbs had reduced inflammatory cell infiltration, improved tendon structure, and less intratendinous hemorrhage. Treatment with methylcullulose had no significant effect on tendon healing, adhesion size, quantity, or strength or on the volume and composition of the tendon sheath fluid. Sodium hyaluronate, administered intrathecally, appears to have a pharmaceutically beneficial action in this collagenase-induced tendinitis and adhesion model in horses.

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