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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Activation of the complement system and adverse effects of biodegradable pins of polylactic acid (Biofix) in osteochondritis dissecans.

Biodegradable pins of polyglycolic acid (PGA) or polylactic acid (PLA) have been used in the treatment of fractures and osteotomies during the past 5 years. Adverse effects reported have included swelling at the implantation site and sinus formation, considered to represent nonspecific foreign-body reactions. Recent reports, however, have shown severe reactions after intraarticular fracture fixation. Reactions in 2 patients, treated with polylactic pins for osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in our hospital, prompted the present clinical investigation and further evaluation of the complement-activating potential of polylactic pins. 10 knees underwent arthroscopic fixation of an OCD-lesion with Biofix (PLA) pins. Clinical follow-ups were carried out at 2, 6, and 12 weeks and at 6 and 12 months. Blood samples were collected from 5 patients 9-24 months postoperatively for biocompatibility tests. Quantification of human C5a des Arg was performed with a recently developed sandwich ELISA technique, using neoepitope-specific monoclonal antibodies. 6 knees developed diffuse swelling and a prolonged postoperative course. 2 patients had a particularly prolonged course which could not be attributed to infection. Levels of C5a des Arg in plasma incubated in the presence of polylactic acid were higher than in plasma incubated in the absence of PLA. The high frequency of long-term postoperative inflammatory signs in these knees treated for OCD and the demonstration of a complement activation potential of PLA pins warrant further studies on the biocompatibility of this material. Until more information is available, we do not recommend intraarticular use of PLA pins.[1]


  1. Activation of the complement system and adverse effects of biodegradable pins of polylactic acid (Biofix) in osteochondritis dissecans. Tegnander, A., Engebretsen, L., Bergh, K., Eide, E., Holen, K.J., Iversen, O.J. Acta orthopaedica Scandinavica. (1994) [Pubmed]
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