Effect of Aftercare Regimen With Extensor Tendon Repair: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Over the past several years, advances in the treatment of extensor tendon injuries have focused mainly on changes to postoperative protocols. Traditional static splinting has been found often to result in loss of flexion as well as extension lags at the metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints. In addition, early motion, once thought to increase the risk of tendon rupture, has shown encouraging results. The purpose of this article was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to determine the optimal postoperative protocol following extensor tendon repair. A systematic review was conducted of PubMed and Cochrane databases to identify all English-language clinical papers reporting results on the surgical treatment and rehabilitation of extensor tendon injuries. Returned articles were reviewed and included in the study if they reported clinical outcomes following surgical repair. A statistical consultation was placed to aid with data analysis. Nineteen studies were included. Of these, eight studies used static splinting (437 tendons), 12 used dynamic splinting (600 tendons), and five used active motion (240 tendons) for their postoperative protocols. Six studies were comparative, two of which reached level I evidence, while the remaining 13 studies were case series, with level IV evidence. Overall, generally favorable results were found for all three regimens with a high degree of variability with respect to outcomes measures reported and methods used for reporting. Quantitative statistical analysis of outcome measures was not possible given this variability. However, complication rates were as follows: static splinting complication rate was 4.1% with 1.8% requiring tenolysis and 0.9% tendon ruptures, dynamic splinting complication rate was 4.3% with 3.2% extensor tendon lags and 0.2% tendon rupture, and early motion complication rate was 1.7% with 0.8% tendon ruptures. Functional results, when reported, were generally favorable for all three postoperative regimens; however, standardized reporting of functional results is needed for quantitative analysis. Early active motion protocols following extensor tendon repair provides a relatively lower complication rate than other postoperative regimens. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 21(4):246–252, 2012)

SKU: JSOA-2012-21-4-W-10 Categories: , Tags: , ,

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Kyle Hammond, MD; Harlan Starr, MD; David Katz, MD; and John Seiler III, MD

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