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A Biomechanical Comparison of High-Tensile Strength Tape Versus High-Tensile Strength Suture for Tendon Fixation Under Cyclic Loading

      Purpose

      To compare the biomechanical properties of high-tensile strength tape and high-tensile strength suture across 2 selected stitch techniques, the Krackow and whip stitch, in securing tendinous tissue during 5,000 cycles of nondestructive loading followed by a load to failure.

      Methods

      Fourteen matched pairs each of cadaveric Achilles, quadriceps, and patellar tendons (n = 84) were randomly assigned to either Krackow or whip stitch and sutured with either 2-mm high-tensile strength tape or No. 2 high-tensile strength suture. Specimens were preloaded to 20 N, cyclically loaded from 20 to 200 N for 5,000 cycles at 2 Hz, and then loaded to failure at 200 mm/min. Linear mixed models evaluated the effects of suture material and stitch technique on cyclic normalized tendon−suture elongation, total normalized tendon-suture elongation at 5,000 cycles, and maximum load at failure.

      Results

      Across all suture constructs, normalized elongation was greater during the initial 10 cycles, compared with all subsequent cycling intervals (all P < .001). There was less total normalized elongation (β = −0.239; P = .007) and greater maximum load at failure in tape (β = 163.71; P = .014) when used in the Krackow stitch compared with the whip stitch.

      Conclusions

      Our findings indicate that tape used in the Krackow stitch maintains the most favorable fixation strength after enduring cyclic loading, with greater maximum load at failure. In addition, overall normalized elongation during long-term cyclic loading was predominately affected by the stitch technique used, regardless of the suture material; however, tape allowed less normalized elongation during the initial loading cycles, especially when placed in the whip stitch.

      Clinical Relevance

      Understanding the potential short- and long-term outcomes of suture material and stitch technique on securing tendinous tissue under repetitive stresses can help inform clinicians on optimal tendon fixation techniques for early postoperative activities.
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