Surgical management of superficial digital flexor tendon luxation in dogs: 48 cases (2005-2020)

D Goh, A. House, A. P. Moores, A. Renwick, C. Franklin, E. Kulendra, S. Polak, J. Pink, M. Triglia, J. Neville-Towle, M. Hamilton, D. Sajik, C. Pfeiffer
J Small Anim Pract. 2021 Dec 15. doi: 10.1111/jsap.13448.

Objectives: To report the outcome, frequency of complications and potential prognostic factors associated with surgical repair of superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) luxation in dogs.

Materials and methods: Medical records from 10 referral hospitals were reviewed retrospectively for cases of SDFT luxation in dogs that underwent surgical stabilisation. Signalment, clinical presentation, diagnostic imaging, surgical method, type and length of post-operative limb immobilisation, nature of and length of exercise restriction, presence of post-operative complications and outcomes were recorded. Data were summarised descriptively and prognostic risk factors assessed for association with surgical outcome using risk ratios.

Results: Forty-eight cases were included. A successful surgical outcome was recorded in 35 of 48 (73%) cases. Re-luxation of the SDFT occurred in seven of 48 (15%). Six out of 48 (13%) had a persistent lameness despite a stable non-luxating SDFT. A high frequency of post-operative complications occurred (71%), with the majority resolved medically. The risk of surgical failure was 60% higher (risk ratio 1.6, 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 2.4) where absorbable suture material was used compared to non-absorbable suture material. Surgical failure was more common in cases managed with non-rigid immobilisation post-operatively (57% failure) compared to cases managed with rigid immobilisation (19% failure), although this result was not statistically significant. Limb immobilisation of 6 weeks or longer did not significantly affect surgical outcome, compared to shorter periods of exercise restriction or limb immobilisation.

Clinical significance: A good outcome can be expected following surgical stabilisation of SDFT luxation. The use of non-absorbable suture was associated with a more successful surgical outcome.