Excursion of the flexor digitorum profundus tendon: A kinematic study of the human and canine digits

S. Horibe, S. L‐Y Woo, J. J. Spiegelman, J. P. Marcin, R. H. Gelberman

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38 Scopus citations


The most common problem following primary flexor tendon repair is the failure of the tendon apparatus to glide, secondary to the formation of adhesions. Early motion following tendon repair has been shown to be effective in reducing adhesions between the tendon and the surrounding sheath. Therefore, it is important to determine the amount of flexor tendon excursion along the digit during joint motion. In this study, the excursion between the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon and the sheath was examined in both human and canine digits. Based on roentgenographic measurements and joint kinematic analysis, the motion of the bones, the FDP tendon, and the sheath were measured with respect to joint rotations. It was found that the canine flexor tendon apparatus behaved similarly to that of the human for the motions studied. The amount of tendon excursion was very small in regions distal to the joint in motion (approximately 0.1 mm/10° of joint rotation). There was little displacement of the sheath (0.2–0.3 mm), except at the metacarpal joint region during metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint motion and at the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint region during PIP joint motion. Tendon excursion relative to the tendon sheath was the largest in zone II during PIP joint rotation (1.7 mm/10° of joint rotation). These results suggest that PIP joint motion may be most effective in reducing adhesions following tendon repair in zone II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • Biomechanics
  • Excursion
  • Flexor
  • Kinematics
  • Sheath
  • Tendon


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