The Effect of Extensor Tendon Adhesions on Finger Motion

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Graham, David J
Clitherow, Harry DS
Singh, Harvinder P
Clarke, Elizabeth C
Smith, Belinda J
Tonkin, Michael A
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Purpose: To quantify the amount and pattern of finger range of motion loss at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP), proximal interphalangeal (PIP), and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints with a simulated extensor tendon adhesion at the level of the proximal phalanx or metacarpal. Methods: In 10 cadaveric specimens, traction sutures were placed in the forearm extensor digitorum communis and flexor digitorum profundus tendons of the middle and ring fingers. Active motion was simulated by suspending weights from the traction sutures via pulleys. The angles of the MCP, PIP, and DIP joints were measured at the position of maximum flexion and extension. Extensor tendon adhesions were simulated alternately at the proximal phalanx and metacarpal levels of the middle and ring fingers, using suture anchors. Repeat measurements were taken using the same amount of force. Results: There was an average total loss of flexion of 38° and of extension of 6° with a proximal phalanx adhesion, with a greater contribution of flexion loss at the PIP joint. The loss of flexion was 17° and of extension was 50° with a metacarpal adhesion, with a loss of extension mostly at the MCP joint. Conclusions: The results of this study identified clear patterns of motion loss that are associated with isolated simulated adhesions in different locations along the extensor mechanism. The greatest motion loss occurred at the joint immediately distal to the simulated adhesion. Clinical relevance: Although extrapolation of these findings to clinical relevance remains unclear, the ability to predict the level of adhesion by the pattern of motion restriction may allow for a targeted tenolysis procedure. This would reduce the amount of soft tissue dissection required, which in turn, could be expected to reduce the degree of repeat adhesion formation.

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Journal of Hand Surgery

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Clinical sciences

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Graham, DJ; Clitherow, HDS; Singh, HP; Clarke, EC; Smith, BJ; Tonkin, MA, The Effect of Extensor Tendon Adhesions on Finger Motion, Journal of Hand Surgery, 2019