Scientific Article|Articles in Press

Alternate Graft Options for Staged Flexor Tendon Reconstruction: A Cadaveric Study of Hamstring Autografts Compared to Conventional Autografts


      To compare the semitendinosus and gracilis tendon lengths and diameters to the palmaris longus, plantaris, flexor digitorum profundus, and flexor pollicis longus (FPL) tendons in a cadaveric model to evaluate the feasibility of hamstring autograft use for staged flexor tendon reconstruction.


      Fifteen fresh cadavers were evaluated for surgical incisions about the knee, forearm, and hand. All flexor digitorum profundus (FDP), FPL, palmaris longus, plantaris, semitendinosus, and gracilis tendons were harvested from each specimen. Diameter and length were recorded and means with SDs were calculated. The mean diameters of the gracilis and semitendinosus were compared to the mean diameters of the FDP and FPL tendons. The hamstring tendon lengths were then compared in terms of percentage of the palmaris longus and plantaris tendon lengths.


      The gracilis (18.0 cm) and semitendinosus (19.9 cm) means were notably longer than the palmaris longus (16.0 cm) and shorter than the plantaris (30.0 cm). The average gracilis tendon diameter (3.8 mm) was smaller than the flexor tendon diameters except for the little finger FDP (3.8 mm). The semitendinosus tendon diameter (4.8 mm) was larger than all flexor tendons with the exception of the middle finger FDP (4.6 mm). Average gracilis and semitendinosus tendon diameters were 3.7 mm and 4.5 mm in males, and 3.8 mm and 4.8 mm in females.


      This study showed the gracilis tendon to have adequate length and diameter for potential autograft use in staged flexor tendon reconstruction in all digits but the little finger. The semitendinosus is larger in diameter than the native flexor tendons, making it a poor autograft option in cases with an intact pulley system.

      Clinical relevance

      Common tendon autograft options for flexor tendon reconstruction are variably present, and the use of gracilis and semitendinosus autograft present potential graft options.

      Key words

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