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Treatment of lateral epicondylitis using skin-derived tenocyte-like cells
  1. D Connell1,
  2. A Datir1,
  3. F Alyas1,
  4. M Curtis2
  1. 1
    Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, UK
  2. 2
    Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, Kinston-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK
  1. Professor D Connell, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, Middlesex, HA7 4LP, UK; david.connell{at}


Objectives: To culture collagen-producing cells derived from skin fibroblasts and o evaluate prospectively the safety and potential use of this cell preparation for treatment of refractory lateral epicondylitis in a pilot study.

Design: Prospective clinical pilot study.

Setting: Institution-based clinical research.

Patients: A total of 12 patients (5 men and 7 women; mean age 39.1 years) with clinical diagnosis of refractory lateral epicondylitis.

Interventions: Laboratory-prepared collagen-producing cells derived from dermal fibroblasts were injected into the sites of intrasubstance tears and fibrillar discontinuity of the common extensor origin under ultrasonography guidance.

Main outcome measures: The outcome assessment was performed over 6 months. The Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE) scale was used to assess pain severity and functional disability. Tendon healing response was measured using four criteria on ultrasonography: tendon thickness, hypoechogenicity, intrasubstance tears and neovascularity.

Results: Cell cultures rich in collagen-producing cells was successfully prepared. After injection, the median PRTEE score decreased from 78 before the procedure to 47 at 6 weeks, 35 at 3 months and 12 at 6 months after the procedure (p<0.05). The healing response on ultrasonography showed median decrease in: (1) number of tears, from 5 to 2; (2) number of new vessels, from 3 to 1; and (3) tendon thickness, from 4.35 to 4.2 (p<0.05). Of the 12 patients, 11 had a satisfactory outcome, and only one patient proceeded to surgery after failure of treatment at the end of 3 months.

Conclusions: Skin-derived tenocyte-like cells can be cultured in the laboratory to yield a rich preparation of collagen-producing cells. Our pilot study suggests that these collagen-producing cells can be injected safely into patients and may have therapeutic value in patients with refractory lateral epicondylitis.

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  • Funding: We thank the British Society of Skeletal Radiologists for their funding for the study design.

  • Competing interests: None.

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