While the strength of a tendon repair is clearly important, the friction of the repair is also a relevant consideration. The purpose of this study was to characterize the frictional coefficient, gliding resistance and breaking strength of suture materials and a suture construct commonly used for flexor tendon repair.
We measured the friction coefficients of 3-0 braided nylon enclosed in a smooth nylon outer shell (Supramid, S. Jackson, Alexandria, VA), 3-0 braided polyester coated with polybutilate (Ethibond, Ethicon, Somerville, NJ), and a 3-0 braided polyester/monofilament polyethylene composite (FiberWire, Arthrex, Naples, FL) sutures. We also measured the gliding resistance, linear breaking strength and resistance to gapping of zone 2 modified Pennington tendon repairs with the two lowest friction sutures in 20 human cadaveric flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendons.
The braided polyester/monofilament polyethylene composite had a significantly lower friction coefficient (0.054) than either the coated polyester (0.076) or nylon (0.130) sutures (p<0.001). The gliding resistances of the repaired tendons with braided/monofilament polyethylene composite suture and coated, braided polyester were similar (p> 0.05). The strength of the two repairs, force to produce a 2mm gap, and resistance to gap formation than coated, braided polyester repairs were also not significantly different.
Braided polyester composite is a low friction suture material. However, when this suture was used for tendon repair with a locking suture technique, it did not show a significant effect on the gliding resistance and repair strength compared with the same repair using coated polyester suture.