Considerations in the surgical use of the flexor sheath and pulley system

A.G. Lowrie (Lead / Corresponding author), V. C. Lees

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The use of the digital flexor sheath to reconstruct damaged structures in the fingers is an intriguing but under-investigated subject. The sheath is anchored firmly to the phalanges and palmar plates and has well-vascularized outer and synovial inner layers. The middle layer is strong and fibrous and not all of it is required for its main biomechanical function of maintaining the moment arm of the flexor tendons. These characteristics have led to several descriptions of different reconstructive uses. In sheath reconstruction, flaps can be used to repair damaged A2 and A4 pulleys. As an anchor, the sheath is useful for tenodeses and tendon transfers. It has been used in the correction of ulnar claw and swan neck deformities. In ligament reconstruction, the A1 pulley has been used to reconstruct the transverse intermetacarpal ligament in cleft hand and ray amputations. The sheath has also been used to cover tendon repairs and periosteal defects with the aim of decreasing adhesions. There is potential for further use of the flexor sheath in reconstructive surgery.The digital flexor sheath can be used to restore various finger functions providing its physiological roles are recognized and preserved. This review considers the different techniques described and their potential uses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)54-59
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Hand Surgery (European Volume)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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