The mechanical strength of side-to-side tendon repair with mismatched tendon size and shape

J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2015 Mar;40(3):239-45. doi: 10.1177/1753193413517327. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Tendon transfers frequently require coaptation of two mismatched tendons. In this cadaver study, ultimate load, stiffness, and Young's modulus were measured in tendon-to-tendon attachments with mismatched donor and recipient tendons, using pronator teres (PT) to extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) and flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU) to extensor digitorum communis (EDC). FCU-to-EDC attachments failed at higher loads than PT-to-ECRB attachments, but they had similar modulus and stiffness values. Ultimate tensile strength of the tendon attachments exceeded the maximum predicted contraction force of any of the transferred muscles, with safety factors of four-fold for the FCU-to-EDC and two-fold for the PT-to-ECRB transfers. This implies that size and shape mismatches should not be contraindications to tendon attachment in transfers. The strength safety factors suggest that postoperative immobilization of these transfers is unnecessary.

Keywords: Tendon transfer; stiffness; ultimate tensile strength.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suture Techniques
  • Sutures
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Tendon Transfer* / methods
  • Tensile Strength