Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery

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Definition

What is Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

Achilles tendon repair surgery is a type of surgery to fix a damaged Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous cord in the lower leg. It connects the muscles of your calf to your heel. It’s the largest tendon in your body. It helps you walk, run, and jump.

The purpose of Achilles tendon repair is to reconnect the calf muscles with the heel bone to restore push-off strength.

When is Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery needed?

You might need Achilles tendon surgery if you tore your tendon. Surgery is advised for many cases of a ruptured Achilles tendon. But in some cases, your healthcare provider may advise other treatments first. These may include pain medicine, or a temporary cast to prevent your leg from moving. And your healthcare provider may not advise surgery if you have certain medical conditions. These include diabetes and neuropathy in your legs.

Or you may need Achilles tendon repair surgery if you have tendinopathy. But in most cases, other treatments can be used to treat tendinopathy. These include resting your foot, using ice and pain medicines, and using a brace or other device to stop your foot from moving. Physical therapy can also help. If you still have symptoms after several months, your healthcare provider might advise surgery.

Depending on the type of problem you have, Achilles tendon surgery might work for you. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of your choices.

Precautions

What should you know before undergoing Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

Those best suited for surgical repair of an acute or chronic Achilles tendon rupture include healthy, active people who want to return to activities such as jogging, running, biking, etc. Even those who are less active may be candidates for surgical repair. Non-operative treatment may also be an option. The decision to operate should be discussed with your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon.

You should not have this surgery if you have active infection or unhealthy skin at or around the site of the Achilles tendon rupture, or if you are not healthy enough to undergo surgery. Other concerns include diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, steroid use, and inability to follow postoperative instructions.

What are the complications and side effects?

The risks of Achilles tendon surgery include:

  • Skin infection at the incision site.
  • Normal complications of surgery or anesthesia, such as bleeding and side effects from medicines.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Risk of repeat Achilles rupture. This risk, though, is typically less than the risk after nonsurgical treatment.
  • The possibility that the healed tendon will not be as strong as before the injury.
  • Decreased range of motion.

Infection is possible with any surgery, but it may be more common with open surgery than with percutaneous surgery. The small risk of other complications is about the same with either open or percutaneous surgery. And most problems go away over time. These complications include pain, delayed wound healing, nerve damage, and problems with scarring.

Common side effects after a Achilles tendon rupture surgery include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbing sensation

Seek medical attention if you experience high fever.

It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Process

How do I prepare for Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

Talk with your healthcare provider how to prepare for your surgery. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin. You may need to stop taking some medicines ahead of time, such as blood thinners. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop before your surgery. Smoking can delay healing. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help to stop smoking.

Before your surgery, you may need imaging tests. These may include ultrasound, X-rays, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. Tell your healthcare provider about any recent changes in your health, such as a fever.

You may need to plan some changes at home to help you recover. This is because you won’t be able to walk on your foot normally for a while. Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital.

What happens during Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

Repair of an acute rupture often takes somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. Repair of a chronic rupture can take longer depending on the steps needed to fix the tendon.

Achilles tendon surgery can be done with several methods. The surgery is done by an orthopedic surgeon and a team of specialized healthcare providers. Ask your healthcare provider about the details of your surgery.

During your surgery:

  • You may have spinal anesthesia. This is so you won’t feel anything from your waist down. You’ll also likely be given sedation. This will help you sleep through the surgery.
  • A healthcare provider will watch your vital signs, like your heart rate and blood pressure, during the surgery.
  • The surgeon will make an incision through the skin and muscle of your calf. If you have minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon will make a smaller incision. He or she may then use a tiny camera with a light to help do the surgery.
  • Your surgeon will make an incision through the sheath that surrounds the tendon. He or she will remove parts of your damaged tendon, or repair the rip in the tendon.
  • Your surgeon may remove another tendon from your foot. This is then used to replace part or all of the Achilles tendon.
  • Your surgeon will make any other repairs that are needed.
  • The healthcare provider will close the layers of skin and muscle around your calf with sutures.

What happens after Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

A healthcare provider will watch you for a few hours after your surgery. When you wake up, you will likely have your ankle in a splint. This is to keep it from moving. Achilles tendon surgery is often an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home the same day.

You will have some pain after your surgery, especially in the first few days. Pain medicines will help relieve your pain. Keep your leg elevated as often as possible. This can help reduce swelling and pain. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider right away if you have a high fever or pain in your ankle or calf that gets worse. After your surgery, you will likely need to use crutches. This is so you can keep your weight off your leg.

About 10 days after your surgery, you’ll need to return to your healthcare provider to have your stitches removed. Your healthcare provider might replace your splint with a cast at this time. If so, follow all instructions about keeping your cast dry. Or, your healthcare provider may give you a special removable boot instead of a cast.

Your healthcare provider will give you instructions about when you can put weight on your leg. He or she will tell you how to strengthen your ankle and leg muscles as you recover. You may need to do physical therapy to help with your recovery.

If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Recovery

What should you do after Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery?

Make sure to follow all your healthcare provider’s instructions about medicines, wound care, and exercises. This will help make sure the surgery is a success for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 7, 2018 | Last Modified: September 7, 2018

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