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Pullout Strength of All-Suture and Metallic Anchors in Repair of Lateral Collateral Ligament Injuries of the Elbow

      Purpose

      To compare the biomechanical properties of metallic anchor (MA) and all-suture anchor (ASA) constructs in the anatomic reattachment of the lateral ulnar collateral ligament complex to its humeral insertion.

      Methods

      Twenty paired male human cadaveric elbows with a mean age of 46.3 years (range: 33-58 years) were used in this study. Each pair was randomly allocated across 2 groups of either MA or ASA. A single 3.5-mm MA or 2.6-mm ASA was then inserted flush into the lateral epicondyle. A dynamic tensile testing machine was used to perform cyclic loading followed by a load to failure test. During the cyclic loading phase, the anchors were sinusoidally tensioned from 10 N to 100 N for 1,000 cycles at a frequency of 0.5 Hz. In the load to failure test, the anchors were pulled at a rate of 3 mm/s. Load at 1-mm and 2-mm displacement, as well as load to ultimate failure were assessed. Clinical failure was defined as displacement of more than 2 mm. Normality of data was assessed with the Shapiro-Wilk test. Continuous data are presented as medians and compared with the Mann–Whitney U test and categorical data was compared with the χ2 test or Fisher exact test.

      Results

      Displacement was significantly greater for the ASA group during cyclic loading starting from the tenth cycle (P < .05). Displacement of more than 5 mm within the first 100 cycles was observed in 2 anchors in the ASA group. No difference was observed in loads required to displace 1 mm (MA: 146 N [6-169] vs ASA: 144 N [2-153]; P = .53) and 2 mm (MA: 171 N [13-202] vs ASA: 161 N [9-191]; P = .97), but there was a statistically significant difference between ultimate loads in favor of ASA in the load to failure test (MA: 297 N [84-343] vs 463 N [176-620]; P < .01).

      Conclusions

      In the cyclic test, no difference in clinical failure defined as pull-out of more than 2 mm was observed between 3.5 mm MAs and 2.6 mm ASAs. In the ultimate load to failure analysis, no difference was observed between groups in force causing 1 and 2 mm of displacement, but there was a significant difference in favor of ASA in the pull to ultimate failure test.

      Clinical Relevance

      Potential benefits of all-suture anchors include preservation of bone stock, reduced radiographic artifacts, and easier revisions. Although their use has been investigated thoroughly in the shoulder, there remains a paucity of literature regarding displacement and pull-out strength in the elbow.
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