In 14 rabbits we determined the origin of the cells effecting healing of the tendon of supraspinatus inserted into a bony trough. After two weeks both the cellularity of the underlying bone and the thickness of the subacromial bursa were significantly increased in the operated compared with the control shoulders. The cellularity of the stump of the tendon, however, was significantly decreased in the operated shoulders. In this model, both the underlying bone and the subacromial bursa but not the stump of the tendon contributed to the process of repair. We conclude that the medial stump should be debrided judiciously but that cutting back to bleeding tissue is not necessary during repair of the rotator cuff. Moreover, great care should be taken to preserve the subacromial bursa since it seems to play an important role in the healing process.
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