Mechanical and imaging evaluation of the effect of sutures on tendons: tape sutures are protective to suture pulling through tendon

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2018 Sep;27(9):1705-1710. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2018.03.004. Epub 2018 May 11.


Background: High-strength sutures, including #2 and tape-type, are popular when performing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Although the most common mechanism of anatomic failure of rotator cuff repair is suture pulling through tendon, the effect of sutures on the suture-tendon interface has rarely been investigated. We evaluated the effect of commercially available modern high-strength standard #2 and tape-type sutures on tendon.

Methods: Isolated sutures (FiberTape, #2 FiberWire [Arthrex Inc., Naples, FL, USA], Ultratape, and #2 Ultrabraid [Smith & Nephew, Andover, MA, USA]) and suture-tendon constructs using sheep infraspinatus tendons were evaluated using mechanical testing and imaging (microcomputed tomography) techniques.

Results: For the 4 suture-tendon constructs evaluated, maximum and residual displacements were all less than 3 mm. Whether evaluating isolated sutures or suture-tendon constructs, tape-type sutures had smaller displacements than standard #2 sutures when products from the same company were compared. On initial suture passing and after mechanical testing, hole volume was larger in constructs with tape-type rather than standard #2 sutures comparing within the same company. Collectively, constructs with larger hole volumes after mechanical testing had stiffer sutures. The percentage difference in hole volume was larger for standard #2 than tape-type sutures: FiberWire (43%), Ultrabraid (17%), FiberTape (11%), and Ultratape (9%).

Conclusions: Tape-type sutures created larger final holes than standard #2 sutures from the same company. When initially passed through the tendon, tape-type sutures produced larger holes than standard #2 sutures; however, standard #2 sutures enlarged their initially smaller holes more and displaced more than tape-type sutures during cyclic loading, which suggests that tape-type sutures may be protective to suture pulling through tendon.

Keywords: Suture pulling through tendon; imaging; mechanics; rotator cuff repair; shoulder; suture; tape suture; tendon.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Models, Animal
  • Sheep
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*
  • Suture Techniques*
  • Sutures*
  • Tendons / surgery*
  • X-Ray Microtomography