• Tendon Repair


    This is surgery to repair a damaged or torn tendon.
    Repair of Tendons in the Left Shoulder
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    Reasons for Procedure

    A tendon attaches muscle to bone. If a tendon tears, the muscle will no longer be able to work properly. This will cause weakness. Reattaching the tendon can fix the weakness.

    Possible Complications

    Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a tendon repair, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Formation of scar tissue that interferes with normal tendon movement
    • Partial loss of function in the involved joint
    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    • Age: 60 or older
    • Obesity
    • Smoking
    • Poor overall health
    • Use of certain medicines
    Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Your doctor will likely do the following:
    • Physical exam
    • Blood and urine tests
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
    Leading up to the procedure:
      Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
      • Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
      • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
    • Arrange for a ride home from the care center.
    • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


    Depending on where the tendon is located, you may be given:
    • General anesthesia —blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV in your hand or arm
    • Regional anesthesia—numbs an area of the body (eg, leg); given as an injection
    • Local anesthesia—just the area that is being operated on is numbed; given as an injection

    Description of the Procedure

    The doctor will make a cut in the skin over the injured tendon. The torn ends of the tendon will be sewn together or reattached to the bone. If you have a severe injury, a tendon graft may be needed. In this case, a piece of healthy tendon will be taken from another part of the body. This healthy tendon will be used to reconnect the broken tendon. The doctor will examine the area for injuries to nerves and blood vessels. Lastly, the incision will be closed with stitches.

    Immediately After Procedure

    The doctor may put you in a splint or cast. This is to keep the injured area in position for proper healing. The splint or cast will usually stay on for a period of weeks.

    How Long Will It Take?

    This depends on where the tendon is located and the severity of the injury. For example, if you injured the flexor tendon in your finger, it can take 45-60 minutes to repair.

    Will It Hurt?

    You will have pain during recovery. Ask your doctor about pain medicine.

    Post-procedure Care

    When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Keep the dressing clean and dry.
    • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
    • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
    • As soon as you feel able, resume daily activities, including work.
    • Have the stitches removed when told by your doctor.
    • Once the splint or cast is removed, work with a physical therapist to strengthen the area.
    • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
    Follow these guidelines to care for your splint or cast :
    • If you have a cast, do not get it wet. When you bathe, cover the cast with plastic. If you have a fiberglass cast and it gets wet, you may dry it with a hair dryer.
    • Bathe or shower as usual after the splint or cast is removed.

    Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
    • Your cast or splint becomes wet, dirty, or broken
    • Skin below the cast becomes cold, discolored, numb, or tingly
    • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
    • New, unexplained symptoms
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.aaos.org/

    American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.aossm.org/


    Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org/

    Canadian Rheumatology Association http://www.rheum.ca/


    Achilles tendon surgery advances speed recovery. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.acfas.org . Accessed September 17, 2009.

    The PDR Family Guide Encyclopedia of Medical Care . New York, NY: Three Rivers Press; 1197.

    Repair to tendon (hand). website. NHS England website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/tendonhand/Pages/Surgery.aspx . Updated March 2009. Accessed September 17, 2009.

    Revision Information

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