Osteoporosis Drug Improves Healing After Rotator Cuff Surgery

New research shows an approved therapy for osteoporosis, Forteo, may speed healing and improve patient outcomes for rotator cuff tears. The preliminary study from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York is being presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) meeting this week in New Orleans .

Forteo is a synthetic version of parathyroid hormone, which is the body’s primary regulator of calcium and phosphate levels in bone. Recently approved by the FDA, it is prescribed for osteoporosis as it not only stimulates bone growth but it also slows the rate of bone loss. The researchers hypothesized that because Forteo stimulated both bone and cartilage formation, it might enhance the healing process after rotator cuff surgery.

Using a rat model, the researchers performed the surgery and then gave some rats Forteo injections in amounts comparable to human doses. Initially, at two weeks after the surgery, the repair was not as strong in the rats who received the Forteo. But when the researchers looked at weeks four through eight, the tendon to bone interface in those rats appeared much more like normal tissue. Closer examination showed that not only had those rats that received Forteo produced more bone and cartilage cells, but the organization of the tissue was better and more closely resembled normal tissue. The tendon was also significantly stiffer, a sign of proper healing, at 8 weeks.

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