This is surgery to repair a damaged or torn tendon.

Repair of Tendons in the Left Shoulder

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Reasons for Procedure

A tendon attaches muscle to bone. If a tendon tears, the muscle will no longer be able to work properly. This will cause weakness. Reattaching the tendon can fix the weakness.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a tendon repair, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Formation of scar tissue that interferes with normal tendon movement
  • Partial loss of function in the involved joint

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Age: 60 or older
  • Obesity]]>
  • ]]>Smoking]]>
  • Poor overall health
  • Use of certain medicines

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.


What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • MRI scan]]>—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body

Leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Arrange for a ride home from the care center.
  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


Depending on where the tendon is located, you may be given:

  • ]]>General anesthesia]]>—blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV in your hand or arm
  • Regional anesthesia—numbs an area of the body (eg, leg); given as an injection
  • Local anesthesia—just the area that is being operated on is numbed; given as an injection

Description of the Procedure

The doctor will make a cut in the skin over the injured tendon. The torn ends of the tendon will be sewn together or reattached to the bone. If you have a severe injury, a tendon graft may be needed. In this case, a piece of healthy tendon will be taken from another part of the body. This healthy tendon will be used to reconnect the broken tendon. The doctor will examine the area for injuries to nerves and blood vessels. Lastly, the incision will be closed with stitches.

Immediately After Procedure

The doctor may put you in a splint or cast. This is to keep the injured area in position for proper healing. The splint or cast will usually stay on for a period of weeks.

How Long Will It Take?

This depends on where the tendon is located and the severity of the injury. For example, if you injured the ]]>flexor tendon]]> in your finger, it can take 45-60 minutes to repair.

Will It Hurt?

You will have pain during recovery. Ask your doctor about pain medicine.

Post-procedure Care

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Keep the dressing clean and dry.
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
  • As soon as you feel able, resume daily activities, including work.
  • Have the stitches removed when told by your doctor.
  • Once the splint or cast is removed, work with a physical therapist to strengthen the area.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

Follow these guidelines to care for your splint or cast:

  • If you have a cast, do not get it wet. When you bathe, cover the cast with plastic. If you have a fiberglass cast and it gets wet, you may dry it with a hair dryer.
  • Bathe or shower as usual after the splint or cast is removed.

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Your cast or splint becomes wet, dirty, or broken
  • Skin below the cast becomes cold, discolored, numb, or tingly
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
  • New, unexplained symptoms

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.