OBJECTIVE: To determine effects of bite depth for placement of an epitendinous suture on the biomechanical strength and gap formation of repaired canine tendons.
SAMPLE: 48 superficial digital flexor tendons (SDFTs) obtained from 24 canine cadavers.
PROCEDURES: Tendons were assigned to 3 groups (16 tendons/group). Each SDFT was transected and then repaired with a continuous epitendinous suture placed with a bite depth of 1, 2, or 3 mm for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Specimens were loaded to failure. Failure mode, gap formation, yield force, peak force, and failure force were analyzed.
RESULTS: Yield, peak, and failure forces differed significantly between groups 1 and 3 and groups 2 and 3 but not between groups 1 and 2. Comparison of the force resisted at 1 and 3 mm of gapping revealed a significant difference between groups 1 and 3 and groups 2 and 3 but not between groups 1 and 2. Failure mode did not differ among groups; suture pull-through occurred in 43 of 48 (89.6%) specimens.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Increasing bite depth of an epitendinous suture toward the center of the tendon substance increased repair site strength and decreased the incidence of gap formation. Repair of tendon injuries in dogs by use of an epitendinous suture with bites made deep into the tendon should result in a stronger repair, which potentially would allow loading and rehabilitation to begin sooner after surgery. Suture techniques should be investigated in vivo to determine effects on tendinous healing and blood supply before clinical implementation.