Basilar Thumb Arthritis: The Utility of Suture-Button Suspensionplasty

Brent R. DeGeorge, Sagar S. Chawla, Bassem T. Elhassan, Sanjeev Kakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to compare the functional outcomes, radiographic outcomes, and complications of trapeziectomy and flexor carpi radialis (FCR) to abductor pollicis longus (APL) side-to-side tendon transfer with or without suture-button suspensionplasty for thumb basilar joint arthritis. Methods: Patients treated with and without suture-button suspensionplasty were compared over a 6-year period. Data were reviewed for complications and functional outcomes, including grip and pinch strength, range of motion, and visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores. Plain radiographs were independently reviewed at initial presentation and at final follow-up, including proximal phalanx length, trapezial space height, and trapezial height ratio. Results: Seventy thumb arthroplasties were performed in 70 patients. Trapeziectomy with FCR-APL side-to-side tendon transfer was performed in 39 patients, and trapeziectomy with FCR-APL side-to-side tendon transfer with suture-button suspensionplasty was performed in 31 patients. Mean length of follow-up was 28.4 ± 3.9 and 23.8 ± 2.6 months, respectively. Postoperative grip, oppositional and appositional pinch strength, and VAS pain scores improved compared with preoperative values, but were not significantly different based on suture-button suspensionplasty. Percentage decline in trapezial space ratio was significantly different between groups at 36.7% and 20.4% for procedures with and without suture-button suspensionplasty, respectively indicating that the trapezial space was better maintained within the suture suspension cohort. The incidence of postoperative complications, including surgical site infection, paresthesias, reoperation, complex regional pain syndrome, and symptomatic subsidence, was not significantly different between groups. Conclusions: Trapeziectomy with FCR to APL side-to-side tendon transfer with and without suture-button suspensionplasty results in comparable improvement in pain, grip strength, and functional parameters. Suture-button suspensionplasty results in significantly greater preservation of trapezial space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • TightRope
  • basilar thumb arthritis
  • carpometacarpal arthritis
  • suspensionplasty
  • suture-button
  • thumb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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