Sutured tendon repair; a multi-scale finite element model

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Following rupture, tendons are sutured to reapproximate the severed ends and permit healing. Several repair techniques are employed clinically, with recent focus towards high-strength sutures, permitting early active mobilisation thus improving resultant joint mobility. However, the arrangement of suture repairs locally alters the loading environment experienced by the tendon. The extent of the augmented stress distribution and its effect on the tissue is unknown. Stress distribution cannot be established using traditional tensile testing, in vivo, or ex vivo study of suture repairs. We have developed a 3D finite element model of a Kessler suture repair employing multiscale modelling to represent tendon microstructure and incorporate its highly orthotropic behaviour into the tissue description. This was informed by ex vivo tensile testing of porcine flexor digitorum profundus tendon. The transverse modulus of the tendon was 0.2551 [Formula: see text] 0.0818 MPa and 0.1035 [Formula: see text] 0.0454 MPa in proximal and distal tendon samples, respectively, and the interfibrillar tissue modulus ranged from 0.1021 to 0.0416 MPa. We observed an elliptically shaped region of high stress around the suture anchor, consistent with a known region of acellularity which develop 72 h post-operatively and remain for at least a year. We also observed a stress shielded region close to the severed tendon ends, which may impair collagen fibre realignment during the remodelling stage of repair due to the lack of tensile stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalBiomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Finite element modelling
  • Tendon
  • Homogenisation
  • Kessler
  • Multi-scale modelling
  • Suture


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