Many surgical procedures have been described for the treatment of thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint osteoarthritis, with significant variation. To date, none has proven to be superior. The purpose of this study was to report long-term follow-up results of suture suspension arthroplasty (SSA).

The SSA technique uses a single incision, trapeziectomy, and an intra-articular suture suspension sling anchored into the insertions of the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) and abductor pollicis longus (APL), which serves to stabilize the base of the thumb metacarpal, correct subluxation deformity, and maintain arthroplasty space. Ninety of 153 SSA reconstructions (59% recall) were evaluated at long-term follow-up (mean, 12.6 years). Data were analyzed for functional outcomes, including preoperative and postoperative grip and pinch strength, radiographs, complications, and postoperative Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) scores.

The mean age at date of surgery was 61.7 ± 7.6 years (82% women). Significant improvement was noted in grip strength (preoperative mean, 25.0 kg; postoperative mean, 28.0 kg; P < .0001), key pinch (preoperative, 4.2 kg; postoperative, 5.1 kg; P < .0001), and tip pinch (preoperative, 2.9 kg; postoperative, 3.6 kg; P < .0001). Radiographic subsidence averaged 35% (0-90). Postoperative QuickDASH scores (mean, 6.6; range, 0-50) revealed good to excellent pain relief and function. One revision was performed, and postoperative FCR rupture occurred in 3 reconstructions.

The SSA technique for thumb CMC arthritis reconstruction yields good to excellent long-term clinical outcomes. Potential advantages of the SSA include short operative time, a single incision, minimal cost, and no need for tendon harvesting, pin fixation, or implantable hardware.

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