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What are the Different Types of Tendon Repair Surgery?

Tendon repair surgeries mend damaged fibers and restore mobility. They range from less invasive percutaneous methods to open surgeries for severe injuries. Techniques like grafting and tendon transfer address complex cases. Each approach is tailored to injury specifics and patient needs, ensuring optimal recovery. Wondering which procedure aligns with your condition? Let's examine the options together.
Nancy Walker
Nancy Walker

Tendons are thick, fibrous bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone and assist with range of motion. Some tendons have sheaths while others do not. Tendons without sheaths are prone to tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon itself. Tendons with sheaths are prone to tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendon sheath due to inadequate supply or poor quality synovial fluid, which lubricates the sheath. When tendinitis and tenoysynovitis fail to respond to non-surgical treatment, there are generally two different types of surgical interventions that may be considered: tendon debridement and tendon repair surgery.

Tendinitis, and to a lesser extent tenosynovitis, can result in a thickening and scarring of the tendon and surrounding tissues. When this occurs, the condition prevents the tendon from moving freely, resulting in pain, swelling, and a reduced range of motion. Tendon debridement is a surgical procedure that involves removing the thickened tissue around the affected tendon that is causing pain and restricting proper tendon function. The goal of tendon debridement is to reduce symptoms without surgically altering the actual tendon.

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.

In more severe cases of tendinitis, tendon rupture may result. In such instances, treatment generally requires tendon repair surgery. This type of surgery can be used to treat any tendon but is most often used to treat lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, iliotibial, or hip, tendinitis, and peroneal, or ankle, tendinitis. During a tendon repair procedure, the surgeon performs a tenectomy, i.e., cutting or disconnecting the tendon to remove the torn or shredded part of the tendon that is causing symptoms — before suturing the healthy ends of the tendon back together. In some cases, the damage is so severe that a portion of a healthy tendon from elsewhere in the body may need to be grafted to the affected tendon during tendon repair surgery.

Surgery can be used to treat damaged tendons.
Surgery can be used to treat damaged tendons.

Depending on the extent of the tendon disease and its location, tendon debridement and tendon repair surgery may be performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthetic. More extensive surgeries are done on an inpatient basis under general anesthesia. Risks of tendon debridement and tendon repair surgery include infection, bleeding, scar tissue formation, and reduced range of motion in the related joint. Recovery from tendon debridement or tendon repair surgery can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks and typically involves rest, casting or splinting, and a period of physical therapy to restore range of motion and muscle strength.

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Discussion Comments

Bakersdozen

@MissMuffet - I can totally understand your reluctance to have surgery, but sadly this is the only option left when regular treatments have failed. (I am guessing you have tried other things already.)

It is so much better to catch things before they progress too far. I have tendinitis in my foot, which is currently being treated with special shoe inserts. I already had a cast and medications, so fingers crossed this is enough.

If I do have to have surgery I'll accept it, but in the meantime I'm doing everything possible to recover without it. It's pretty difficult to rest enough when you are an active person.

MissMuffet

I've suffered with a quadricep tendon problem for a couple of years, though it's only just been properly diagnosed.

The doctor proposed some kind of knee surgery, which freaks me out as I can't take that amount of time off work to rest up afterwards.

Reading through this article has helped me to understand more about the subject. I feel more confident about discussing surgical options now I have some basic knowledge.

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    • A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
      By: iofoto
      A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
    • Surgery can be used to treat damaged tendons.
      By: derege
      Surgery can be used to treat damaged tendons.
    • Ice packs may help reduce inflammation after surgery.
      By: michelaubryphoto
      Ice packs may help reduce inflammation after surgery.
    • Most types of invasive surgery carry some inherent risks, due in part to possible infection.
      By: redcarpett
      Most types of invasive surgery carry some inherent risks, due in part to possible infection.
    • In some cases, the treatment of tennis elbow requires tendon repair surgery.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      In some cases, the treatment of tennis elbow requires tendon repair surgery.
    • More extensive types of tendon repair surgery will be done under general anesthesia on an inpatient basis.
      By: Tyler Olson
      More extensive types of tendon repair surgery will be done under general anesthesia on an inpatient basis.
    • Recovery from tendon repair surgery can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Recovery from tendon repair surgery can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks.