Intrasynovial flexor tendon repair: A biomechanical study of variations in suture application in human cadavera

Gregory N. Nelson, Ryan Potter, Eleni Ntouvali, Matthew J. Silva, Martin I. Boyer, Richard H. Gelberman, Stavros Thomopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


To improve the functional outcomes of intrasynovial tendon suture, prior experiments evaluated individual technical modifications used in the repair process. Few studies, however, have assessed the combinatorial effects of those suture modifications in an integrated biomechanical manner, including a sample size sufficient to make definitive observations on repair technique. Two hundred fifty-six flexor tendon repairs were performed in human cadavera, and biomechanical properties were determined. The effects of five factors for flexor tendon repair were tested: core suture caliber (4-0 or 3-0), number of sutures crossing the repair site (four- or eight-strand), core suture purchase (0.75 or 1.2 cm), peripheral suture caliber (6-0 or 5-0), and peripheral suture purchase (superficial or 2 mm). Significant factors affecting the properties of the repair were the number of core suture strands and the peripheral suture purchase. The least significant factors were core suture purchase and peripheral suture caliber. The choice of core suture caliber affected the properties of repair marginally. Based on these results, we recommend that surgeons continue to focus on multi-strand repair methods, as the properties of eight-strand repairs were far better than those of four-strand repairs. To resist gap formation and enhance repair strength, a peripheral suture with 2 mm purchase is also recommended. Finally, since core suture caliber affected some biomechanical properties, including the failure mode, a 3-0 suture could be considered, provided that future in vivo studies can confirm that gliding properties are not adversely influenced. ©

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1652-1659
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • biomechanics
  • hand


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