Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Tendon repair

Tendon repair is surgery to repair damaged or torn tendons.

Tendon repair can be performed using:

  • Local anesthesia (the immediate area of the surgery is pain-free)
  • Regional anesthesia (the local and surrounding areas are pain-free)
  • General anesthesia (the patient is asleep and pain-free)

The surgeon makes a cut on the skin over the injured tendon. The damaged or torn ends of the tendon are sewn together.

If the tendon has been severely injured, a tendon graft may be needed.

  • In this case, a piece of tendon from the foot, toe, or another part of the body is often used.
  •  If needed, tendons are reattached to the surrounding tissue.
  • The surgeon examines the area to see if there any injuries to nerves and blood vessels. When complete, the wound is closed.

If the tendon damage is too severe, the repair and reconstruction may have to be done at different times.

The surgeon will perform one operation to repair part of the injury, and then allow the hand to heal for a few weeks. Another surgery will be later done to complete the reconstruction and repair the tendon.

Alternative Names

Repair of tendon

Why the Procedure Is Performed

The goal of tendon repair is to bring back normal function of joints or surrounding tissues following a tendon laceration .

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia include:

  • Reactions to medications
  • Problems breathing

Risks for any surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Additional risks for tendon repair surgery include:

  • Scar tissue formation that prevents smooth movements
  • Pain that does not go away
  • Partial loss of use in the involved joint
  • Stiffness of the joint

After the Procedure

Tendon repairs can often be done in an outpatient setting. Hospital stays, if any, are short.

Healing may take 6 - 12 weeks. During that time the injured part may need to be kept still in a splint or cast. Typically, movement is returned gradually with therapy to protect the tendon as it heals.

Treatment after surgery is often needed to minimize scar tissue and maximize the use of the injured area.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most tendon repairs are successful with proper physical therapy, resulting in functional joint use.

References

Sokolove PE. Extensor and flexor tendon injuries in the hand, wrist, and foot. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 48.

Updated: 8/11/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com