Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine whether the clinical results of zone I flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon injuries managed with acute surgical repair are comparable to the clinical results of those managed without repair (eg, primary FDP excision or observation). Methods: Patients aged ≥18 years presenting to a level 1 trauma center between 2015 and 2020 with zone I FDP tendon injury were identified with retrospective chart review. We assessed the following data: age, sex, physical therapy visits, surgical intervention, surgical complications (including infection, repeat surgery after the primary intervention, and rupture of repair), and patient-reported outcomes measurement information system scores. Results: Twenty-six patients met the inclusion criteria. Group 1 (N = 15 patients, 23 fingers) patients were treated with acute surgical repair. Group 2 (N = 11 patients, 11 fingers) patients were managed without surgical repair, including FDP excision (N = 7) or observation alone (N = 4). In group 1, the average distance from the distal palmar crease to fingertip at the final follow-up was 1.6 cm (range, 0–4 cm). Fourteen of the 15 patients participated in >3 therapy visits. The following complications occurred: 4 fingers with rerupture (2 patients), 4 fingers with surgical wound dehiscence (2 patients), 3 infections (2 patients), and 4 repeat surgeries for these complications. In group 2, the average distance from the distal palmar crease to fingertip at the final follow-up was 1.1 cm (range, 0.5–3 cm). There were no infections, episodes of wound dehiscence, or repeat surgeries. At the final follow-up, both groups showed clinically meaningful improvement on Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) upper extremity, pain interference, and physical function scores, with similar PROMIS domain scores between groups. Conclusions: Patients treated without FDP tendon repair had similar outcomes to, and fewer complications than, patients treated with acute tendon repair. Our data suggest that the notable commitment of health care costs, time, and adherence to protocols/restrictions after surgical repair may not confer functional benefit. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.
- tendon injury
- zone I