Improved methods are needed for prevention and treatment of injuries to the musculoskeletal soft tissues. Tissue engineering techniques have led to more effective clinical protocols for treating these injuries. Improvement of tissue healing through the addition of biologic factors, and the development of biologically active tissue engineered replacements, are two promising areas of research. An essential component of progress in this field is the use of animal models of tendon and ligament injuries, which allows for rigorous testing of hypotheses related to disease pathogenesis and treatment. Because these animal models must be appropriate for the condition being studied, no single model exists that is appropriate for all investigations. It generally is necessary to differentiate between tendon and ligament tissues. Furthermore, ligaments should be divided into intraarticular and extraarticular models, whereas tendons should be divided into intrasynovial and extrasynovial models. Other important factors in the appropriate use of an animal model include size of the animal, anatomic features, and techniques available for tissue analysis. The tissues used should be large enough to allow for accurate and reproducible manipulations (injury creation, repair, reconstruction). In addition, it is preferable to use tissues that are amenable to quantitative analysis.

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