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J Hand Surg Am. 2007 Oct;32(8):1190-4.

Biomechanical influence of the vincula tendinum on digital motion after isolated flexor tendon injury: a cadaveric study.

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Surgical and Orthopaedic Research Laboratories, University of New South Wales, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.



The vincula are specialized mesotendinous structures attaching to the flexor tendons of the hand. In addition to providing vascular supply to the tendons, the vincula can be mechanically important. The purpose of this study was to quantify the influence of intact vincula on digital flexion after flexor tendon laceration and to assess the ultimate strength and stiffness of the vincula.


The index, middle, and ring fingers of 12 fresh-frozen cadaveric fingers were dissected free at the level of the metacarpophalangeal joint, preserving at least 10 cm of the flexor and extensor tendons. A 9.8-N load was applied to each flexor tendon, and using digital photography and image analysis software, the degree of flexion at the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints and excursion of tendons proximal to the metacarpophalangeal joint was recorded before and after division of the flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis tendons at their insertions. Load to failure and stiffness of the vincula were measured via a uniaxial material testing apparatus. Analysis of means was performed with a paired t-test.


After division of the flexor digitorum superficialis tendon, proximal interphalangeal joint flexion secondary to the influence of the intact vincula was 93% of that compared with the uninjured digit. Distal interphalangeal joint flexion after flexor digitorum profundus transection was 69% of normal. The increased excursion of transected tendons compared with testing before division was 4 mm for flexor digitorum superficialis and 2 mm for flexor digitorum profundus. Load to failure was 27 N, and stiffness was 6 N/mm.


The vincula breve can facilitate digital flexion after distal tendon transection, allowing tendons to act indirectly across the interphalangeal joints. The intact vincula breve can facilitate an almost normal range of motion across the interphalangeal joints, making the diagnosis of a flexor tendon injury difficult. In the immediate postinjury period, the vincula breve can hold a divided tendon within a few millimeters of its insertion. Testing against resistance is important to avoid missing the diagnosis of a tendon injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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