Operative Technique for Human Composite Flexor Tendon Allograft Procurement and Engraftment

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Abstract

Devastating volar hand injuries with significant damage to the pulley structures and fibro-osseous sheath, flexor tendons, and volar plates pose a major problem to the reconstructive hand surgeon. Despite advances in tendon handling, operative technique, and postoperative hand rehabilitation, patients who have undergone flexor tendon reconstruction are often plagued by chronic pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion with resultant decreased ability to work and poor quality of life. Postoperative adhesion formation and lack of suitable donor material for tendon autograft are 2 fundamental problems that continue to challenge the hand surgeon. In 1967, Erle E. Peacock, Jr, described a technique of flexor tendon reconstruction using cadaveric composite flexor tendon allograft, which consisted of both the flexor digitorum profundus and superficialis tendons in their respective fibro-osseous sheaths consisting of the digital pulley structures and the underlying periosteum and volar plates. This technique never gained widespread acceptance due to concerns regarding tissue antigenicity, infectious disease transmission, and the rising popularity of the method of Hunter for silastic rod-based flexor tendon reconstruction initially described during the same period. With modern-day advances in tissue processing with acellularization and extensive donor screening for transmissible diseases, this technique should be revisited to address the reconstructive needs of patients with extensive volar soft tissue and tendon injury. Herein, we describe the operative technique of composite flexor tendon procurement and reconstruction with key modifications from the initial technique described by Peacock for improved composite construct elevation, soft tissue inset, and bony attachment.

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