In situ forming biomaterials as muscle void fillers for the provisional treatment of volumetric muscle loss injuries

Andrew Clark, Jonathan Kulwatno, Sergey S. Kanovka, Todd O. McKinley, Benjamin K. Potter, Stephen M. Goldman, Christopher L. Dearth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Volumetric muscle loss (VML) represents a devastating extremity injury which leads to chronic functional deficits and disability and is unrecoverable through normal healing pathways. When left untreated, the VML pathophysiology creates many challenges towards successful treatment, such as altered residual muscle architecture, excessive fibrosis, and contracture(s). As such, innovative approaches and technologies are needed to prevent or reverse these adverse sequelae. Development of a rationally designed biomaterial technology which is intended to be acutely placed within a VML defect – i.e., to serve as a muscle void filler (MVF) by maintaining the VML defect – could address this clinical unmet need by preventing these adverse sequelae as well as enabling multi-staged treatment approaches. To that end, three biomaterials were evaluated for their ability to serve as a provisional MVF treatment intended to stabilize a VML defect in a rat model for an extended period (28 days): polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), hyaluronic acid and polyethylene glycol combination (HA + PEG), and silicone, a clinically used soft tissue void filler. HA + PEG biomaterial showed signs of deformation, while both PVA and silicone did not. There were no differences between treatment groups for their effects on adjacent muscle fiber count and size distribution. Not surprisingly, silicone elicited robust fibrotic response resulting in a fibrotic barrier with a large infiltration of macrophages, a response not seen with either the PVA or HA + PEG. Taken together, PVA was found to be the best material to be used as a provisional MVF for maintaining VML defect volume while minimizing adverse effects on the surrounding muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100781
JournalMaterials Today Bio
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Biocompatibility
  • Extremities
  • Military medicine
  • Prolonged care
  • Trauma


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