Comparison of Open Drainage Versus Closed Catheter Irrigation for Treatment of Suppurative Flexor Tenosynovitis

Trevor R. Born, Eric R. Wagner, Sanjeev Kakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to review the outcomes associated with different surgical treatments in the management of suppurative flexor tenosynovitis (SFT). Methods: Patients treated by open drainage (OD) through a single incision and closed catheter irrigation (CCI) of the tendon sheath were evaluated from 2003 to 2009 at a single institution. Variables examined included culture results, time to surgery, duration of hospitalization and antibiotic therapy, pain, reoperation, and functional outcomes were recorded. Statistical analyses used included parametric and nonparametric t tests. Results: Twenty-four patients were treated for SFT with a mean follow-up of 3 ± 2 years. There were 13 (100%) males in the OD group compared to 8 (72%) males within the CCI group. Ninety-two percent of patients who underwent OD and 100% who underwent CCI reported none or mild pain. There were no differences between the 2 groups with regard to functional outcome scores. Factors leading to worse functional outcomes included prolonged time to receiving antibiotics and Staphylococcus aureus infection. Smokers required prolonged antibiotic treatment compared to nonsmokers. Accounting for planned returns to the operating room, there was no difference in reoperation rates between the OD or CCI groups. Conclusions: Surgical treatment of SFT with either OD or CCI resulted in similar outcomes for pain, function, and need for reoperation. Factors that lead to poor outcomes include S aureus culture, prolonged time to antibiotics, and smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-584
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • catheter irrigation
  • flexor tenosynovitis
  • hand infection
  • open surgical drainage
  • suppurative infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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