Purpose: The flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendon transfer can be used to restore opposition of the thumb. Several pulley designs have been proposed for this transfer. Gliding resistance is considered to be an important factor influencing the efficiency of the pulley design. Our purpose was to compare the gliding resistance among 4 commonly used pulleys for the FDS oppositional transfer. Methods: Ten fresh-frozen cadaver specimens were studied. The ring FDS was used as the donor tendon. An oppositional transfer was created using 4 pulley configurations: FDS passed around the flexor carpi ulnaris (a-FCU), FDS passed through a 2.5-cm circumference distally based FCU loop (2.5-FCU), FDS passed through a 3.5-cm circumference distally based FCU loop (3.5-FCU), and FDS passed through a longitudinal split in the FCU tendon (s-FCU). The gliding resistance was measured with the thumb in radial abduction and maximum opposition. Results: In abduction, the average FDS gliding resistance of a-FCU, 2.5-FCU, 3.5-FCU, and s-FCU was 0.66 N (SD, 0.14 N), 0.70 N (SD, 0.14 N), 0.68 N (SD, 0.16 N), and 0.79 N (SD, 0.15 N), respectively. The peak gliding resistance of a-FCU, 2.5-FCU, 3.5-FCU, and s-FCU was 0.75 N (SD, 0.16 N), 0.74 N (SD, 0.15 N), 0.74 N (SD, 0.15 N), and 0.86 N (SD, 0.15 N), respectively. Conclusions: The average gliding resistance of the s-FCU was found to be significantly higher than that of the a-FCU and 3.5-FCU pulleys. In opposition, there were no differences in average or peak gliding resistance among the different pulley designs. Clinical relevance: In this in vitro cadaveric study, the FDS split pulley produced higher gliding resistance. Consideration of the pulley configuration may improve the overall thumb function by decreasing forces needed to overcome gliding resistance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine