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J Hand Surg Am. 1988 Nov;13(6):860-6.

Flexor tendon ruptures in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Mt. Auburn Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.


One hundred fifteen flexor tendon ruptures were reviewed in 43 hands with rheumatoid arthritis, one hand with psoriatic arthritis, and one hand with lupus erythematosis. Ninety-one tendons were ruptured at the wrist, four ruptures occurred at the palm, and 20 ruptures occurred within the digits. At the wrist level, 61 ruptures were caused by attrition on a bone spur and 30 were caused by direct invasion of the tendon by tenosynovium. All ruptures distal to the wrist were caused by invasion of the tendon by tenosynovium. Patients whose ruptures were caused by attrition regained better motion than those whose ruptures were caused by invasion by tenosynovitis; however, motion overall was poor. Patients with isolated ruptures in the palm or at the wrist had the best functional results. Those patients with multiple ruptures within the carpal canal had a worse prognosis. Ruptures of both tendons within the fibro-osseous canal had the worst prognosis. The severity of the patient's disease and the degree of articular involvement had a great effect on the outcome of surgery. Prevention of tendon ruptures by early tenosynovectomy and removal of bone spurs should be the cornerstone of treatment.

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