Tendon repair

Alternative names
Repair of tendon

Definition
Tendon repair is surgical repair of damaged or torn tendons.

Description

Tendon repair can be performed a using local anesthesia (the immediate area of the surgery is pain-free), regional anesthesia (the local area and surrounding regions nearby the surgical area are pain-free) or general anesthesia (the patient is unconscious and the area is pain-free). An incision is made over the injured tendon. The damaged or torn ends of the tendon are sewn together.

If the tendon has been injured severely, a tendon graft may be required (a piece of tendon from the foot or toe or another part of the body is often used). If necessary, tendons are reattached to the surrounding connective tissue. The area is examined for injuries to nerves and blood vessels, and the incision is closed.

Indications
The goal of tendon repair is restoration of normal function of joints or surrounding tissues following a tendon laceration.

Risks
Risks for any anesthesia include the following:

     
  • Reactions to medications  
  • Problems breathing

Risks for any surgery include the following:

     
  • Bleeding  
  • Infection

Additional risks include the following:

     
  • Formation of scar tissue which prevents smooth movements (adequate tendon gliding)  
  • Partial loss of function in the involved joint

Expectations after surgery
Most tendon repairs are successful, allowing full joint function.

Convalescence

Tendon repairs can often be done in an outpatient setting and hospital stays, if any, are short. Healing, however, can take as long as 6 weeks, during which the injured part may need to be immobilized in a splint or a cast.

Postoperative therapy is frequently necessary to minimize scar tissue and maximize function after repair.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.D.

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