A 3-dimensional suture technique for flexor tendon repair: A biomechanical study

  • Castoldi Marie
  • Solla Federico
  • Camuzard Olivier
  • Pithioux Martine
  • Rampal Virginie
  • Rosello Olivier

  • 2-mm gap force
  • Flexor tendon
  • Hand injuries
  • Suture techniques
  • Tensile strength


PURPOSE: Flexor tendon injury continues to pose a number of challenges for hand surgeons. Improving mechanical properties of repairs should allow for earlier and unprotected rehabilitation. A 3-dimensional (3D) 4-strand suture technique has been proposed to combine high tensile strength and low gliding resistance without causing suture pullout due to tendon delamination. Our hypothesis is that the 3D technique can result in better mechanical properties than the Adelaide technique. METHODS: Four groups of 10 porcine flexor tendons were sutured using the 3D or Adelaide technique with a 3-0 polypropylene or ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) suture. The axial traction test to failure was performed on each tendon to measure 2-mm gap force and ultimate tensile strength. RESULTS: The mean 2-mm gap force was 49 N for group A (3D + polypropylene), 145 N for group B (3D + UHMWPE), 47 N for group C (Adelaide + polypropylene), and 80 N for group D (Adelaide + UHMWPE). Failure mode was caused by suture breakage for group A (10/10) and mainly by suture pullout for the other groups (8/10 up to 10/10). With the UHMWPE suture, the mean ultimate tensile strength was 145 N for the 3D technique and 80 N for the Adelaide technique. CONCLUSIONS: Porcine flexor tendons repaired using the 3D technique and UHMWPE suture exceeded a 2-mm gap force and tensile strength of 140 N. The ultimate tensile strength was superior to that of the Adelaide technique, regardless of the suture material. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This in vitro study on porcine flexor tendon suture highlights that the mechanical properties of 3D repair are better than those of 3D repair using the Adelaide technique when a UHMWPE suture is used.