Purpose The aim of this study was to investigate factors that contribute to tendon bowstringing at the proximal phalanx. We hypothesised that: (1) a partial rupture of the A2 pulley leads to significant bowstringing, (2) the location of the A2 rupture, starting proximally or distally, influences bowstringing, (3) an additional A3 pulley rupture causes a significant increase in bowstringing following a complete A2 pulley rupture and (4) the skin and tendon sheath may prevent bowstringing in A2 and A3 pulley ruptures. Methods Index, middle and ring fingers of eight freshly frozen cadaver arms were used. A loading device pulled with 100 N force was attached to the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP). The flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) was preloaded with 5 N. Bowstringing was measured and quantified by the size of the area between the FDP tendon and the proximal phalanx over a distance of 5 mm with ultrasonography (US). Results US images showed that already a 30% excision of the A2 pulley resulted in significant bowstringing. In addition, a partial distal incision of the A2 pulley showed significantly more bowstringing compared to a partial proximal incision. Additional A3 pulley incision and excision of the proximal tendon sheath did not increase bowstringing. Subsequently, removing the skin did increase the bowstringing significantly. Conclusion A partial A2 pulley rupture causes a significant bowstringing. A partial rupture of the A2 pulley at the distal rim of the A2 pulley resulted in more bowstringing than a partial rupture at the proximal rim.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.bjps.2014.01.041, hdl.handle.net/1765/69156
Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery
Department of Surgery

Leeflang, S, & Coert, J.H. (2014). The role of proximal pulleys in preventing tendon bowstringing: Pulley rupture and tendon bowstringing. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, 67(6), 822–827. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2014.01.041