What are suture anchors?

Equipment used to place and remove sutures.

A suture anchor is a small device used during surgical procedures to secure soft tissue, such as ligaments and tendons, to bone. The size and type of anchor needed to secure the soft tissue depends on the individual patient’s bone density and the operation being performed. Suture anchors can be made of titanium metal, polyetheretherketone thermoplastic, or biodegradable absorbable material. They are commonly used as part of a rotator cuff repair surgery.

A suture anchor is a small device used during surgical procedures to secure soft tissue, such as ligaments and tendons, to bone.

The suture anchor can be made in two different ways. A threaded anchor is very similar to the lower half of a normal household screw, with two small eyelet holes at the top through which the suture material is attached. The housing-type anchor has the same two grommet openings on the top, but has no protrusions around the body of the device.

A suture anchor is used to secure the suture threads.

Insertion of suture anchors into bone is done in two different ways, depending on the type of anchor used in the procedure. The screw-retained suture anchor is twisted into place with an instrument called a suture anchor wrench. Comparable in appearance to a screwdriver, the tool is used to insert the anchor into a pre-drilled hole in the bone. The housing-type anchor is carefully pushed into the pre-drilled hole with an insertion tool equipped with a special handle. Wrenches and insertion tools vary in size depending on the size of the anchor being used in the surgery.

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After the suture anchor has been correctly placed in the bone, a braided or monofilament suture is threaded through the small hole in the end of the anchor. The soft tissue is then attached to the suture thread and attached to the anchor implanted in the bone. The surgeon will knot the loose ends of the suture near the anchor point for greater stability of the soft tissue repair.

Complications from using suture anchors are more common near active muscle sites and when used on soft bones. The most common problem that occurs is when the suture anchor comes out of the bone, also called anchor pullout, which usually happens when smaller sized anchors are used. A problem with the polymer-based plastic anchor can happen if the anchor eye breaks. Titanium metal suture anchors sometimes break sutures during excessive physical activity. Occasionally, repeat surgery may be necessary if the suture anchor moves or is not positioned correctly.

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