Purpose: Surgical treatment of osteoarthritis of the first carpometacarpal joint aims to achieve complete pain relief with restoration of thumb strength and stability. The aim of this study was to introduce a variation of the abductor pollicis longus (APL) sling arthroplasty and to determine its efficacy in comparison with other tendon sling arthroplasty procedures. Methods: Between January 1999 and December 2003, 104 trapeziectomies in 74 consecutive patients (30 bilateral cases) were performed using a new APL sling arthroplasty. Patients were evaluated at 6 and 12 months after surgery. The outcomes were analyzed subjectively by questionnaire and objectively by clinical and radiographic evaluation. Results: After 6 months, excellent results in terms of pain relief were achieved in 95 thumbs (91%) of 65 patients. The remaining 9 thumbs had ongoing pain and had a secondary surgery performed between 6 and 12 months after the initial surgery. Pain relief was achieved in 1 thumb by scaphotrapezoid arthrodesis and in the other 8 thumbs by excision of the osteophyte on the ulnar-volar surface of the base of the first metacarpal, which was impinging on the base of the second metacarpal or the trapezoid. The gap was filled with a palmaris tendon anchovy. After 12 months, the 65 patients with successful trapeziectomies and APL sling remained pain-free. In these patients tip pinch, key pinch, and power grip strength increased by 46%, 19%, and 41%, respectively, from the preoperative values. In the 35 unilateral cases, tip pinch, key pinch, and power grip strength increased from 53%, 77%, and 65% of the contralateral hand strength before surgery to 82%, 89%, and 90%, respectively. Conclusions: This modified APL sling arthroplasty is a new and effective way of creating a suspension sling with the APL tendon after trapeziectomy, with results comparable or better than other published methods, for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the first carpometacarpal joint. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic, Level IV. Â© 2007 American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
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