Bray, R. C., D. J. Butterwick, M. R. Doschak and J. V. Tyberg. Coloured microsphere assessment of blood flow to knee ligaments in adult rabbits: Effects of injury. Journal Of Orthopaedic Research. 14:618-625, 1996.

Coloured microspheres were used to determine standardized blood flow in an established model of medial collateral ligament injury in the adult rabbit knee. Resting blood flow in the ligament was ascertained to be on the order of 0.68 +/- 0.08 ml/min/100 g (mean +/- SEM) in normal rabbit knees, although errors in flow estimates of this magnitude may be quite high. In healing medial collateral ligament, however, flow had increased markedly 3 weeks after injury (21.45 +/- 5.48 ml/min/100 g). Flows in sham-operated control medial collateral ligaments were not significantly increased compared with those in control normal ligaments, Six weeks after injury, blood flow in the ligament remained elevated (16.90 +/- 3.20 ml/min/100 g) and was similarly elevated in other neighbouring joint tissues (i.e., ipsilateral synovial Eat pad). The increase in flow to ipsilateral noninjured articular tissues did not persist beyond 6 weeks, but flow in the healing medial collateral ligament scar tended to remain elevated after 17 weeks (4.20 +/- 1.79 ml/min/100 g), although this did not achieve statistical significance. We conclude from these data that it is possible to measure the increase in blood flow in injured and healing articular tissues using the coloured microspheres technique and that ligament injury is a potent stimulus for increasing blood flow. Coloured microsphere measurements of blood flow to joint connective tissues map offer a valuable approach to future investigations of joint injury and arthritis.