Conventional surgical suture is mechanically limited by the ability of the suture to transfer load to tissue at suture anchor points. Sutures coated with adhesives can improve mechanical load transfer beyond the range of performance of existing suture methods, thereby strengthening orthopaedic repairs and decreasing the risk of failure. The mechanical properties of suitable adhesives were identified using a shear lag model. Examination of the design space for an optimal adhesive demonstrated requirements for strong adhesion and low stiffness to maximize strength. As a proof of concept, cyanoacrylate-coated sutures were used to perform a clinically relevant flexor digitorum profundus tendon repair in cadaver tissue. Even with this non-ideal adhesive, the maximum load resisted by repaired cadaveric canine flexor tendon increased by ∼ 17.0% compared to standard repairs without adhesive. To rapidly assess adhesive binding to tendon, we additionally developed a lap shear test method using bovine deep digital flexor tendons as the adherends. Further study is needed to develop a strongly adherent, compliant adhesive within the optimal design space described by the model.

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