Repair of zone II flexor digitorum profundus lacerations using varying suture sizes: a comparative biomechanical study

George Alavanja, Elizabeth Dailey, Daniel P Mass
Journal of Hand Surgery 2005, 30 (3): 448-54

PURPOSE: To compare the maximum tensile load, change in work of flexion, and gapping at the repair site after zone II flexor digitorum profundus tendon repairs using 2-0, 3-0, and 4-0 braided polyester 4-strand locked cruciate repair technique in fresh-frozen cadaveric hands with standard 6-0 suture epitenon repairs, to determine which suture size is the best for a core repair.

METHODS: A randomized study was designed using 41 tendons from 15 fresh-frozen cadaveric hands. We included only the flexor digitorum profundus tendons from the index, middle, and ring fingers to minimize variation between digits. Core suture size was randomized for each finger. A sharp laceration through the flexor digitorum profundus in zone II was made and a 4-strand locked cruciate braided polyester core stitch was performed along with a locked epitenon stitch. Cyclic loading was performed for 1,000 cycles. For each tendon the mean work of flexion (before/after zone II repair) and maximum tensile load were measured using a custom-designed tensiometer, as was gapping before maximum tensile loading.

RESULTS: Mean gaps after 1,000 load-unload cycles to 3.9 N of pulp pinch did not approach the clinically significant limit of 3 mm in each group. By using a regression model, we found that the prerepair and postrepair comparisons for mean work of flexion to a 3.9-N pulp pinch showed the greatest change in work of flexion for 2-0 braided polyester. Statistical significance was found between 2-0 braided polyester and 3-0 or 4-0 braided polyester; however, the work of flexion between the 3-0 and 4-0 polyester was not clinically significant. The highest maximum tensile load was obtained with suture size 2-0 braided polyester. The maximal tensile load statistically showed 2-0 braided polyester to be stronger than 4-0 braided polyester but we found no statistically significant difference between 3-0 and 2-0 braided polyester or between 3-0 and 4-0 braided polyester.

CONCLUSIONS: In this cadaveric study we found that increasing locking cruciate suture caliber from 4-0 to 2-0 increased maximum tensile strength but also caused increased work of flexion. Gapping was not affected by suture caliber. There was no significant difference in strength or mean change in work of flexion between 3-0 or 4-0 braided polyester sutures.

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