Optimizing Achilles tendon repair: effect of epitendinous suture augmentation on the strength of achilles tendon repairs

Steven J Lee, Scott Goldsmith, Stephen J Nicholas, Malachy McHugh, Ian Kremenic, Simon Ben-Avi
Foot & Ankle International 2008, 29 (4): 427-32

BACKGROUND: Epitendinous suture augmentation has been shown to increase gap resistance and overall strength in flexor tendon repairs of the hand. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of various suture augmentation techniques in Achilles tendon repair.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eighteen fresh-frozen cadaveric Achilles tendons were transected and repaired with a 4-strand Krackow core stitch. Suture augmentation was performed with 3 figure-of-eight stitches in 6 specimens and a running cross-stitch weave in 6 specimens. The other 6 specimens were not augmented. Each tendon was loaded to failure on an MTS. Force to failure (defined as peak force or force at 5 mm gapping), gapping resistance, stiffness, and elongation were compared.

RESULTS: Force to failure (p < 0.001), stiffness (p < 0.01) and gapping resistance (p < 0.05) were increased by suture augmentation. Additionally failure force and gapping resistance for the cross-stitch augmentation was higher than the figure-of-eight augmentation (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Cross-stitch augmentation of Achilles tendon repair yields a stronger and stiffer repair with greater resistance to gapping.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Achilles tendon repairs augmented with a cross stitch weave will be able to withstand substantially higher forces than non-augmented repairs.

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