Biomechanical Studies of Donor Muscle Tension in Tendon Transfer Surgery

Based on recent biomechanical studies undertaken at the Department of Orthopaedics, University of California, San Diego, U.S.A. there is a safe zone during transfer of the brachioradialis to power the thumb flexor. This result is based on testing of the influence upon brachioradialis-to-flexor pollics longus attachment site using buckle transducer under manipulation of elbow and wrist joint position. The study indicates that passive tensions exceeding 10-12 N can barely be achieved. Even this tension level is far less than the potential breaking level for a comparable tendon-to-tendon attachment which is at approximately 200 N (safety factor of 10) according to recent load-to-failure study. The study implies that free motion of the elbow can be allowed without harming the reconstruction of thumb flexion using brachioradialis as donor muscle-tendon construct in the immediate postoperative mobilization after this kind of reconstruction.