Tendon repair refers to the surgical repair of damaged or torn tendons. Tendons are cord-like structures made of strong fibrous connective tissue that connect muscles to bones. Joints most commonly affected by tendon injuries are: shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle joints.
Diagnosis of a tendon injury is usually made when the patient consults a doctor about pain in the injured area. The doctor will usually order radiographs and other imaging studies of the affected joint as well as performing an external exam in the office. In some cases fluid will be withdrawn from the joint to check for signs of infection, bleeding, or arthritis.
Local, regional or general anesthesia is administered to the patient depending on the extent and location of tendon damage. With a general anesthetic, the patient is asleep during surgery. With a regional anesthetic, a specific region of nerves is anesthetized. With a local anesthetic, the patient remains alert during the surgery, and only the incision location is anesthetized.
After the overlying skin has been cleansed and covered with a sterile drape, the surgeon makes an incision over the injured tendon. When the tendon has been located, the surgeon sutures the damaged or torn ends of the tendon together. If the tendon has been greatly injured, a tendon graft may be required. This is a procedure in which a piece of tendon is taken from another part of the body and used to repair the damaged tendon. If required, tendons are reattached to the surrounding connective tissue. The surgeon inspects the area for injuries to nerves and blood vessels, and then closes the incision.