Utility of early active motion for flexor tendon repair with concomitant injuries: A multivariate analysis

Published:October 22, 2018DOI:


      • Flexor tendon injury with concomitant fractures or extensor tendon injuries can aggravate postoperative functional outcome.
      • It is crucial to identify the factors affecting the outcome of flexor tendon repair.
      • Better postoperative functional outcome can be achieved through early active motion protocol.
      • Rigid osteosynthesis with a strong suture technique that can tolerate early active motion is vital.



      Flexor tendon injury often occurs with concomitant injuries such as fracture, vascular injury, and extensor tendon injury. These injuries are repaired independently, without a comprehensive strategy. We aimed to identify the effect of concomitant injuries and treatment choice on the outcome of flexor tendon repair.

      Patients and methods

      We evaluated 118 fingers of 102 adult patients with zone 1–3 flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon injuries who underwent primary surgery at our hospital between April 2009 and December 2017. The 2-strand pull-out, 4-strand Tsuge, 6-strand Lim & Tsai, and 8-strand cross-locked cruciate suturing techniques were used. We performed multivariate analyses, with the active range of motion (AROM) of the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints as dependent variables, and age, existence of concomitant injuries, and their treatment as independent variables.


      The average AROM of the PIP + DIP joints was 130° at the last follow-up, and ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ function was obtained in 74 (63%) of 118 fingers by using the Strickland criteria. Old age, concomitant diaphyseal fractures, and specific methods of osteosynthesis, such as pinning, flexor digitorum superficialis injury, and immobilisation for 3 weeks, significantly worsened the results. However, wiring for osteosynthesis and early active motion protocol improved postoperative functional outcome. Although the outcome did not differ among the suture techniques, the 4-strand Tsuge procedure was performed for the two surgically confirmed ruptures of repair that occurred in our series.


      We clarified the superiority of early mobilisation protocols with rigid osteosynthesis procedure, other than pinning. To minimise tendon adhesion or joint stiffness, surgeons should repair the tendon and fractured bone appropriately, to ensure early mobilisation without serious complications.

      Key words

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