Thermal modification of connective tissues: basic science considerations and clinical implications.

S. P. Arnoczky, A. Aksan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Wound healing is a natural and well-orchestrated biologic event. Indeed, the ability of wounds to heal is the foundation on which the practice of surgery is predicated. The successful surgeon maintains a delicate alliance with nature, balancing the magnitude of the surgical insult against the capacity of the tissue for repair. Thermal injury is one of the most traumatic insults a tissue can sustain and the high degree of cell death and matrix alteration associated with thermal burns have been shown to result in a protracted healing time. Thus, the use of thermal energy as a stimulant for tissue shrinkage must be tempered with an appreciation of the biologic events that accompany this phenomenon. Furthermore, it must be realized that the initial degree of capsular shrinkage observed following the application of thermal energy may have little bearing on the long-term biologic and biomechanical status of the joint capsule. Therefore, the desire to see a redundant capsule shrink and become taut at surgery should be weighed very carefully against the level of damage imparted to the tissue to achieve this result. The simple initiation of the healing response may be sufficient to rehabilitate an incompetent structure via the creation of new cellular tissue. While the ultimate application(s) of thermal modification of connective tissues has yet to be completely defined, its ultimate role may be best suited to that of a low level stimulant for inducing a biologic repair response rather than a highly aggressive mechanism for primary tissue shrinkage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalInstructional course lectures
StatePublished - 2001


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