Purpose: To compare the sensitivity and specificity of high-resolution static and dynamic ultrasound (US) for diagnosing intact repairs and small, clinically relevant gaps (≥4 mm) in repaired flexor digitorum profundus tendons within zone 2 and, secondarily, to evaluate the effect of suture artifact from 3 commonly used suture types. Methods: Eighty-eight fresh-frozen cadaveric digits (thumbs excluded) were randomized to either an intact repair (0-mm gap) or repairs using a locked 4-strand suture repair with either 4-0 Prolene, Ethibond, or FiberWire and gaps of 2, 4, or 6 mm and no suture in which 2-, 4-, or 6-mm gaps were created without a suture crossing the repair site. Gap widths were estimated by a blinded musculoskeletal ultrasonographer in static and dynamic modes. Results: Both static and dynamic modalities tended to overestimate actual gap sizes. For the suture gaps, both modalities had poor sensitivity (29% static; 42% dynamic) for accurately diagnosing a clinically intact repair (<4 mm), but better specificity (83% static; 75% dynamic) for diagnosing a clinically failed repair (≥4-mm gap). Although suture presence decreased the sensitivity of gap width measurement for both modalities, no differences were seen between suture types. Conclusions: Static and dynamic US have poor sensitivity for diagnosing clinically intact repairs (gaps < 4 mm) because they typically overestimate gap size. The ability to diagnose failed repairs (gap ≥ 4 mm), based on greater specificity, is much better, but still suboptimal. Clinical relevance: Based on a receiver operating characteristic analysis cutoff of 5 mm, if a gap of 5 mm or larger is identified with US when evaluating a zone 2 flexor digitorum profundus tendon repair, a failed repair is likely in about 80% of cases. A gap measurement of less than 5 mm may miss a high percentage of repairs that are clinically failed.
- flexor tendon
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine