The current gold standard for repairing the disabling knee injury, which typically occurs in adults aged 40 and over, is transosseous tunnel repair – a lengthy, technically demanding procedure. The team at Missouri has found that suture anchors, a less-invasive repair technique, responded better to strength-testing after the surgery, supporting more movement in the knee earlier in the recovery process.
“The suture anchor technique requires a smaller incision and disrupts less of the patient’s normal anatomy around the knee,” said Seth Sherman, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the MU School of Medicine. “By using a minimally invasive approach, we create a better healing environment for the knee, which supports more movement in the knee earlier after surgery.”
Sherman conducted tendon-repair surgeries using both techniques on human cadaveric tendon specimens. After the surgeries, Sherman, along with Ferris Pfeiffer, assistant professor in the MU College of Engineering and School of Medicine, simulated rehabilitation to test the strength of the repaired tendons. Sherman and Pfeiffer found that the tendons repaired with the less-invasive suture anchor technique had significantly less gapping after the stress tests.
The researchers also found no difference in the amount of pressure the tendon could withstand during either technique. According to Sherman, this means that not only were the suture anchors more resistant to gapping, but they also had the same ultimate strength as transosseous tunnel repairs.
Sherman has started using the suture anchor technique in living human patients and plans to compare the healing time of the two techniques in future research.
“Although a clinical study is needed to confirm this technique as a viable alternative to the current gold-standard technique, these results support suture anchors as a viable, less-invasive alternative to repairs of the quadriceps tendon,” he said.
Source: Medical News Today and University of Missouri-Columbia
Reference: Sherman, S.L., et al. (2016) Biomechanical evaluation of suture anchor versus transosseous tunnel quadriceps tendon repair techniques. Arthroscopy: J. Arthroscopic Rel. Surgery. doi:10.1016/j.arthro.2015.11.038.