Mersilene Ligament Reconstruction

Ligaments connect bones and keep joints in proper alignment. A torn ligament leads to pain, loss of function and can eventually lead to painful arthritis. Repairing a ligament can usually prevent these problems.

Some ligament injuries can heal without surgery; with casts, splints and Hand Therapy. A severe ligament injury, and some specific ligaments cannot heal on their own and need to be repaired surgically.

Think of ligaments as a rope. If the rope is severely frayed, it can be sewn together. If a rope is torn, it may be difficult to bring the ends back together. That rope would have to spliced or replaced. Ligaments are treated in a similar fashion. Some ligament tears can be sewn back together, others need to be replaced.

There are no perfect ligament substitutes. At times we can borrow another tissue from your body (ligament, fascia or tendon) and use it to replace or reinforce a torn ligament. Many artificial ligaments have been tried with limited success. The most promising to date is the polyester weave suture (Mersilene©).

Studies at the Pennsylvania Hand Center and Thomas Jefferson University have shown that Mersilene can be stronger than the ligament it replaces. In addition, Mersilene allows ingrowth of scar tissue among its fibers so, theoretically, with time it will get stronger and be totally incorporated by the body.

The use of Mersilene was developed at the Pennsylvania Hand Center over the last 10 years, with great success. It should however still be considered experimental to a certain degree, because it is still not widely known or used. We also believe that there is no better alternative at this time.