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Achilles tendon repair

Definition

Your Achilles tendon joins your calf muscle to your heel. You can tear your Achilles tendon if you land hard on your heel during sports, from a jump, or when stepping into a hole.

Surgery to repair the Achilles tendon is done if your Achilles tendon has been torn into 2 pieces.

Alternative Names

Achilles tendon rupture-surgery; Percutaneous Achilles tendon rupture repair

Description

To fix your torn Achilles tendon, the surgeon will:

  • Make a cut down the back of your heel
  • Make several small cuts rather than one large cut

After that, the surgeon will:

Bring the ends of your tendon together

  • Sew the ends together
  • Stitch the wound closed

Why the Procedure is Performed

Before surgery is considered, you and your doctor will talk about ways to take care of your Achilles tendon rupture.

You may need this surgery if your Achilles tendon has been torn into 2 pieces.

You need your Achilles tendon to point your toes and push off your foot when walking. If your Achilles tendon is not fixed, you can have problems walking up stairs or raising up on your toes.

Risks

Risks from anesthesia and surgery are:

  • Breathing problems
  • Reactions to medicines
  • Bleeding or infection

Possible problems from Achilles tendon repair are:

  • Damage to nerves in the foot
  • Foot swelling
  • Problems with blood flow to the foot
  • Wound healing problems, which may require a skin graft or other surgery
  • Scaring of the Achilles tendon
  • Blood clot or deep vein thrombosis
  • Some loss of calf muscle strength

There is a small chance that your Achilles tendon could tear again. About 5 out of 100 people will have their Achilles tendon tear again.

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If you could be pregnant
  • What medicines you are taking, including medicines, herbs, or supplements you bought without a prescription
  • If you have been drinking a lot of alcohol

During the days before the surgery:

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other medicines that make it hard for your blood to clot.
  • Ask your doctor which medicines you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help quitting.

On the day of the surgery:

  • You will probably be asked not to drink or eat anything for several hours before the surgery. Take the medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive.

After the Procedure

Work with your health care providers to keep your pain in control. Your heel may be very sore.

You will be wearing a cast or splint for a period of time.

Many persons can be discharged the same day of the surgery. Some persons may require a short stay in the hospital.

Outlook (Prognosis)

You will be able to resume full activity in about 6 months. Expect full recovery to take about 9 months.

References

Azar, FM. Traumatic disorders. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 48.

Irwin, T. Tendon injuries of the foot and ankle. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 117.


Review Date: 2/18/2015
Reviewed By: Dennis Ogiela, MD, orthopedic surgeon, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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