A biologic is a medical product derived from many natural sources such as humans, animals, microorganisms. Examples of biologics used in surgeries include bone grafts, platelet rich plasma, stem cells, purified proteins which are involved in healing cascades such as BMP, tendons, ligaments. The list can go on. It can be anything designed to help the human body heal.
Using Biologics to Heal Tendons
As a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon, I know that many types of injuries are difficult to treat or more accurately, difficult to heal. When I repair a rotator cuff, I am hoping that the patients biology heals the tendon back to the bone.
I can put the tendon where it needs to be, but getting it to heal requires many factors. The repair must be of sufficient strength to hold the tissue long enough for healing to occur. Once the rotator cuff tendon heals then the screws and suture are no longer needed.
It is the first couple of months that are the most important for healing. A cascade of events takes place where cells communicate with each other in order to repair the injured tissue.
Biologics are a way surgeons can add material to the surgically repaired tissue in the hopes of increasing the communication between cells and creating a better environment that promotes faster and stronger healing.
I use stem cells in some of my rotator cuff repairs. I use them because the larger the rotator cuff tear, the higher the risk is for failure to heal. I feel better knowing I have given the patient the best chance to heal.