Title page for ETD etd-05162011-211056

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Everett, Eric K
URN etd-05162011-211056
Title Biomechanical analysis of a novel suture pattern for repair of equine tendon lacerations
Degree Master of Science
Department Veterinary Medical Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Barrett, Jennifer G. Committee Chair
De Vita, Raffaella Committee Member
White, Nathaniel A. II Committee Member
  • and Laceration
  • Tendon
  • Biomechanics
  • Tenorrhaphy
  • Equine
Date of Defense 2011-04-14
Availability unrestricted
Flexor tendon lacerations in horses are traumatic injuries that can be career ending and life threatening. In the horse, a tendon repair must withstand the strains placed on the tenorrhaphy by immediate weight bearing and locomotion post-operatively. Despite the use of external coaptation, such strains can lead to significant gap formation, construct failure, longer healing time and poor quality of the healed tendon. Similar to equine surgery, gap formation and construct failure are common concerns in human medicine, with early return to post-operative physiotherapy challenging the primary repair. Early return to exercise and decreased gap formation has been shown to reduce adhesion formation. Based on these concerns, the ideal tenorrhaphy suture pattern for equines would provide: 1) high ultimate failure load, 2) resistance to gap formation, 3) minimal alteration in blood supply, and 4) minimal adhesion formation.

Historically, various suture patterns and materials have been evaluated for human and equine flexor tendon repair. Results of equine studies suggest the three-loop pulley pattern (3LP) compares favorably to other patterns and is recommended for primary tenorrhaphy. However, this pattern still experiences significant gap formation and can result in failure. As a result, a technique which decreases the problems inherent in the 3LP is warranted for tenorrhaphy of equine flexor tendons.

A review of the human literature highlights certain characteristics of the tenorrhaphy that may improve results including core purchase length and suture loop characteristics. Optimization of these tenorrhaphy characteristics can increase tenorrhaphy performance and patient outcome. The six-strand Savage technique (SSS) is a pattern routinely used in human hand surgery for tendon repair, and possesses high ultimate failure load and resistance to gap formation that may be beneficial for application in equine tendon repair.

This study compared a novel tenorrhaphy pattern for horses, the SSS, with the currently recommended pattern, the 3LP, in an in vitro model. We hypothesize the SSS will fail at a higher ultimate load, resist pull through, and resist gap formation better than the 3LP.

All testing used cadaveric equine superficial digital flexor tendons from horses euthanized for reasons other than musculoskeletal injury. All testing was approved by the IACUC. The two techniques were applied to cadaveric equine superficial digital flexor tendons. The same investigator performed all repairs (EE). Biomechanical properties were determined in a blinded, randomized pair design. Ultimate failure load, mode of failure and load required to form a 3mm gap were recorded on an Instron Electropuls materials testing system. Gap formation was determined using synchronized high-speed video analysis. Results are reported as mean + standard deviation. Statistical comparisons were made using Student’s T test, with significance set at p<0.05.

The tenorrhaphies were tested for their ultimate failure load and failure mode. The mean failure load for the SSS construct (421.1± 47.6) was significantly greater than that for the 3LP repaired tendons (193.7±43.0). Failure mode was suture breakage for the SSS constructs (13/13) and suture pull through for the 3LP constructs (13/13). The maximum load to create a 3mm gap in the SSS repair (102.0N± 22.4) was not significantly different from the 3LP repair (109.9N± 16.0).

The results of the current study demonstrate that the SSS tenorrhaphy has a higher ultimate failure load and resistance to pull through than the 3LP. The biomechanical properties of the SSS technique show promise as a more desirable repair for equine flexor tendons. However, in vivo testing of the effects of the pattern on live tissue and in a cyclic loading environment is necessary before clinical application of the pattern is recommended.

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