Are Suture Tape Knots as Secure as Standard Suture? A Biomechanical Study.

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Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine


Background: Few studies have investigated the biomechanical performance of flat-braided suture tapes versus round-braided sutures after being knotted.

Purpose: To compare the loop security and knot strength of a standard round-braided suture with 3 commercially available flat-braided suture tapes using 2 types of arthroscopic knots.

Study Design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: One standard suture (SS) and 3 suture tapes (T1, T2, and T3) were tied with the surgeon's knot (SK) and the Tennessee slider (TS), 25 times each, by a single surgeon. Each combination of knots and sutures underwent a preload, cyclic loading, and load to failure. Outcomes were loop security (defined by loop stretch after a 5-N preload), load at clinical failure (3 mm of displacement), and load at ultimate failure (suture rupture or knot slippage). Two-way analysis of variance was used for analysis.

Results: Overall, the SK group had greater overall loop security than that of the TS group (0.4 ± 0.3 vs 0.5 ± 0.3 mm of stretch, respectively; P = .020). The clinical failure load varied by suture type (P < .001) but not knot type (P = .106). For both knot types, the SS had the lowest mean ± SD clinical failure load (SK, 171 ± 49 N; TS, 176 ± 37 N), which was significantly less than that of T2 (247 ± 85 N; P < .001) and T3 (251 ± 96 N; P < .001) for the SK type and T2 (231 ± 67 N; P = .023) for the TS type. T2 sutures had the greatest ultimate failure load for both knot types (SK, 418 ± 45 N; TS, 461 ± 57 N), which was significantly greater than SS, T1, and T3 (P < .001 for all). The TS knot had greater overall ultimate failure load than the SK (375 ± 64 vs 350 ± 66 N; P < .001).

Conclusion: Not all suture tape knots had the same biomechanical properties, although knot security and strength appeared to be adequate for all suture tapes as well as for SS. There was no evidence that suture tape knots are lower profile than SS knots.

Clinical Relevance: Surgeons should not use suture tape based only on the assumption that it has superior biomechanical properties to a standard round-braided suture.





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