Aponeurotomy, which is the transection of an aponeurosis perpendicular to its length, is performed to lengthen spastic and/or short muscles. During recovery, the cut ends of the aponeurosis are reconnected by new connective tissue bridging both ends. The aim of this study is to investigate the histological features of this new connective tissue as well as its mechanical properties after recovery from aponeurotomy. For this purpose, aponeurotomy was performed on the proximal aponeurosis of rat m. gastrocnemius medialis (GM), which was followed by six weeks of recovery. The lengths of aponeurotic tissues were measured as a function of active muscle length. The results are compared to a control group as well as to the acute effects and a sham operated group. Activation of the muscle at increasing lengths after aponeurotomy caused a gap between the cut ends of the aponeurosis. However, after recovery, new connective tissue is formed bridging the aponeurotic ends, consisting of thin collagen fibres, which are densely packed and generally arranged in the direction of the aponeurosis. The number of fibroblasts was three to five times higher than that of aponeurotic tissue of the intact parts as well as that of the acute and sham operated muscles. The strain of the new connective tissue as a function of active muscle length was shown to be about three times higher than that of the aponeurosis. It is concluded that the inserted new aponeurotic tissue is more compliant and that the aponeurosis becomes 10-15% longer than in untreated muscle. As a consequence, the muscle fibres located distally to the new aponeurotic tissue will become shorter than prior to aponeurotomy. This explains a shift of the length-force curve, which favours the restoration of the range of joint motion.
- Connective tissue
- m. gastrocnemius