Outcomes After Flexor Tendon Injuries in the Pediatric Population: A 10-Year Retrospective Review

Background: Pediatric outcomes after flexor tendon repairs are variable, and evidence in the literature remains scarce. Methods: Repair of pediatric flexor tendon injuries was reviewed over a 10-year period (2005-2015). Data collection consisted of patient demographics, injury characteristics, anesthetic choice, repair technique, rehabilitation protocol, American Society for Surgery of the Hand Total Active Motion (TAM) scores, and complications. Results: There were 109 patients included in our study, with a total of 162 digits injured and 235 flexor tendon injuries. The mean age was 12 ± 4.6 years. The small finger (48 of 162; 30%) and the flexor digitorum profundus tendon (126 of 235) were the most commonly injured. The mechanism of injury was mainly from a knife (46 of 109; 42.2%) in zone II (82 of 159; 52%). Injuries were mostly repaired under general anesthetic (61 of 104; 56%). The Kessler technique was the predominant repair mechanism (111 of 225 repairs; 49%). Most patients (103 of 109; 95%) had excellent or good TAM scores with 5 postoperative ruptures reported. The most common complication was stiffness (17 of 121 complications; 14%), with most patients having no complications ( 74 of 109 patients; 68%). Patients were commonly immobilized (mean 8.4 ± 10.3 weeks) with a splint (93 of 109; 85%). There were 85 patients who followed a postoperative rehabilitation protocol for 12 ± 18 weeks. Patient demographics, time of repair, injury characteristics, anesthetic choice, and rehabilitation protocol were not significantly correlated with TAM scores or complication rates. Conclusions: Pediatric tendon injuries have good outcomes with no predictive factors identified. Surgical repairs performed under local anesthetic have similar outcomes without increased rates of complications, but remain underused in the pediatric population.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Claudia Malic

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

    View Profile Email