Objective: To determine the effect of partial vs complete circumferential epitendinous suture (ES) placement in addition to a core suture on the biomechanical strength and gapping characteristics of repaired canine tendinous constructs.
Study design: Ex vivo, biomechanical study.
Sample population: Thirty-six canine superficial digital flexor tendons.
Methods: Superficial digital flexor tendons were randomly assigned to three groups (n = 12), sharply transected and repaired with a core locking-loop suture with Group 1 a partial circumferential ES, 180° on the palmar side; Group 2 a complete circumferential ES, 360° and double knotting technique; or Group 3 a complete circumferential ES, 360° and single knotting technique. After preloading, constructs were distracted to monotonic failure. Failure mode, gap formation, yield, peak, and failure forces were analyzed.
Results: Mean yield (group 1 = 68.6 N, group 2 = 106.5 N, group 3 = 114 N, P < .013), peak (group 1 = 92.8 N, group 2 = 134.6 N, group 3 = 147.3 N; P < .001), and failure (group 1 = 88.7 N, group 2 = 133.0 N, group 3 = 145.5 N, P < .001) loads differed between groups. No difference in yield (P = .874), peak (P = .434), or failure load (P = .434) was detected between complete circumferential ES groups. Force to create 1-mm (P < .001) and 3-mm (P < .038) gap formation was greater in specimens with complete vs partial circumferential ES placement. Complete circumferential ES repairs failed primarily by suture pull-through compared with suture breakage in most partial circumferential ES constructs.
Conclusion: Addition of a complete circumferential ES with a single or double knotting technique increased the biomechanical strength of normal tendon repairs while reducing gap formation compared with partial ES placement alone.
Clinical significance: Complete circumferential ES is recommended over partial ES placement.