Achilles tendon repair
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, when accelerating, or when stepping into a hole.
Surgery to repair the Achilles tendon is done if your Achilles tendon has been torn into 2 pieces.
Achilles tendon rupture - surgery; Percutaneous Achilles tendon rupture repair
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 torn and separated.
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. However, studies have shown that Achilles tendon tears can successfully heal on their own with similar outcomes as surgery. Talk to your doctor about which course of treatment is best for you.
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 health care provider:
- 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 provider which medicines you should still take on the day of the surgery.
- If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your provider 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 provider will tell you when to arrive.
After the Procedure
Work with your 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 people can be discharged the same day of the surgery. Some people may require a short stay in the hospital.
Keep your leg elevated for as much as possible during the first 2 weeks to reduce swelling and promote wound healing.
You will be able to resume full activity in about 6 months. Expect full recovery to take about 9 months.
Azar FM. Traumatic disorders. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 48.
Irwin TA. Tendon injuries of the foot and ankle. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 118.
Jasko JJ, Brotzman SB, Giangarra CE. Achilles tendon rupture. In: Giangarra CE, Manske RC, eds. Clinical Orthopaedic Rehabilitation: A Team Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 45.
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.