Evaluation of 5 knots and 2 suture materials for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: very strong sutures can still slip

Arthroscopy. 2006 Jan;22(1):38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2005.10.010.


Purpose: To compare a standard suture material with a newer material using multiple arthroscopic knot configurations and to evaluate the biomechanical performance of a new sliding-locking knot compared with 4 surgical standards.

Type of study: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: Five knots were evaluated (Weston, Tennessee, Duncan, SMC, and the new San Diego knot) using 2 suture materials, No. 2 Ethibond (Ethicon, Somerville, NJ) or No. 2 Fiberwire (Arthrex, Naples, FL). Eight samples were tested for each knot-suture configuration. Samples were pretensioned to 10 N and then loaded from 10 to 45 N for 1,000 cycles. Intact knots were loaded to failure.

Results: Fiberwire had significantly higher load-to-failure (276 +/- 24 N) compared with Ethibond (111 +/- 13 N) (P < .001), although there was no significant difference as a function of knot configuration. Of the 40 Fiberwire knots, 3 failed by early slippage during cyclic loading and 8 slipped at very low tension during load-to-failure. None of the Ethibond knots and none of the San Diego knots failed by early slippage.

Conclusions: Surface characteristics and suture construction affect the tendency for knot slippage.

Clinical relevance: Surgeons should understand the impact of handling characteristics, frictional properties, and ultimate failure load when selecting suture materials and knots for arthroscopic repair.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Suture Techniques*
  • Sutures*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome