Biomechanical Analysis of Zone 2 Flexor Tendon Repair With a Coupler Device Versus Locking Cruciate Core Suture

Chetan S. Irwin, Brent G. Parks, Kenneth R. Means

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To compare flexor tendon repair strength and speed between a tendon coupler and a standard-core suture in a cadaver model. Methods: In 5 matched-pair fresh cadaver hands, we cut the flexor digitorum profundus tendon of each finger in zone 2 and assigned 20 tendons to both the coupler and the suture groups. Coupler repair was with low-profile stainless steel staple plates in each tendon stump, bridged by polyethylene thread. Suture repair was performed using an 8-strand locking-cruciate technique with 4-0 looped, multifilament, polyamide suture. One surgeon with the Subspecialty Certificate in Surgery of the Hand performed all repairs. Via a load generator, each flexor digitorum profundus was loaded at 5 to 10 N and cycled through flexion just short of tip-to-palm and full extension at 0.2 Hz for 2,000 cycles to simulate 6 weeks of rehabilitation. We recorded repair gapping at predetermined cycle intervals. Our primary outcome was repair gapping at 2,000 cycles. Tendons that had not catastrophically failed by 2,000 cycles were loaded to failure on a servohydraulic frame at 1 mm/s. Results: Tendon repair gapping was similar between coupled and sutured tendons at 2,000 cycles. Tendons repaired with the coupler had higher residual load to failure than sutured tendons. Mean coupler repair time was 4 times faster than suture repair. Conclusions: Zone 2 flexor repair with a coupler withstood simulated early active motion in fresh cadavers. Residual load to failure and repair speed were better with the coupler. Clinical relevance: This tendon coupler may eventually be an option for strong, reproducible, rapid flexor tendon repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878.e1-878.e6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanical
  • suture devices
  • tendon repair
  • zone 2 flexor tendon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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