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Biomechanical and Morphometric Properties of the Long Flexor Tendons of the Toes: A Cadaver Study

Orhan Beger Department of Anatomy, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

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Gamze Tumentemür Department of Anatomy, Acıbadem University Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey.

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Coşar Uzun Department of Biophysics, Mersin University Faculty of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey.

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Elif Nedret Keskinöz Department of Anatomy, Acıbadem University Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey.

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Özlem Elvan Department of Anatomy, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

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Deniz Uzmansel Department of Anatomy, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

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Mert Keskinbora Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Istanbul Medipol University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.

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Nurten Erdal Department of Biophysics, Mersin University Faculty of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey.

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Bahar Taşdelen Department of Biostatistics, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

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Zeliha Kurtoğlu Department of Anatomy, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

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Background:

We sought to show the biomechanical and morphometric properties of flexor hallucis longus (FHL) and flexor digitorum longus (FDL) tendon grafts harvested by specific surgical approaches and to assess the contribution of FHL slips to the long flexor tendons of the toes.

Methods:

Thirteen fresh-frozen amputated feet (average age, 79 years) were dissected. The connections between the FHL and FDL tendons and the contribution of FHL slips to the long flexor tendons were classified. The biomechanical properties of the tendons and slips were measured using a tensile device.

Results:

The connections between the FHL and FDL tendons were reviewed in two groups. Group 1 had FHL slips (11 cases) and group 2 had cross-slips (two cases). The FHL slips joined the second and third toe long flexor tendon structures. Tendon length decreased significantly from the second to the fifth toe (P < .001). Apart from the second toe tendon being thicker than that of the fourth toe (P = .02) and Young's modulus being relatively smaller in the third versus the fourth toe tendon (P = .01), biomechanical and morphometric properties of second to fourth tendons were similar. Mechanical properties of those tendons were significantly different from fifth toe tendons and FHL slips. Morphometric and biomechanical properties of FHL slips were similar to those of the fifth toe tendon.

Conclusions:

Herein, FHL slips were shown to have biomechanical properties that might contribute to flexor functions of the toes. During the harvesting of tendon grafts from the FHL by minimally invasive incision techniques from the distal plane of the master knot of Henry, cutting slips between FHL and FDL tendons could be considered a cause of postoperative function loss in toes.

Corresponding author: Orhan Beger, Department of Anatomy, Mersin University, Çitlikköy Campus, Mersin, 33343 Turkey. (E-mail: obeger@gmail.com)