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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Nov;124(5):1551-8. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181babb77.

Barbed suture tenorrhaphy: an ex vivo biomechanical analysis.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, and the Curtis National Hand Center, Union Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC 20007, USA.



Using barbed suture for flexor tenorrhaphy could permit knotless repair with tendon-barb adherence along the suture's entire length. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the tensile strength and repair-site profile of a technique of barbed suture tenorrhaphy.


Thirty-eight cadaveric flexor digitorum profundus tendons were randomized to polypropylene barbed suture repair in a knotless three-strand or six-strand configuration, or to unbarbed four-strand cruciate repair. For each repair, the authors recorded the repair site cross-sectional area before and after tenorrhaphy. Tendons were distracted to failure, and data regarding load at failure and mode of failure were recorded.


The mean cross-sectional area ratio of control repairs was 1.5 +/- 0.3, whereas that of three-strand and six-strand barbed repairs was 1.2 +/- 0.2 (p = 0.009) and 1.2 +/- 0.1 (p = 0.005), respectively. Mean load to failure of control repairs was 29 +/- 7 N, whereas that of three-strand and six-strand barbed repairs was 36 +/- 7 N (p = 0.32) and 88 +/- 4 N (p < 0.001), respectively. All cruciate repairs failed by knot rupture or suture pullout, whereas barbed repairs failed by suture breakage in 13 of 14 repairs (p < 0.001).


In an ex vivo model of flexor tenorrhaphy, a three-strand barbed suture technique achieved tensile strength comparable to that of four-strand cruciate repairs and demonstrated significantly less repair-site bunching. A six-strand barbed suture technique demonstrated increased tensile strength compared with four-strand cruciate controls and significantly less repair-site bunching. Barbed suture repair may offer several advantages in flexor tenorrhaphy, and further in vivo testing is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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