Minimally invasive Achilles tendon surgery reduces complications
Brian Frias was rounding second base and heading to third when he heard a sharp snap in his Achilles tendon.
"I went down like a sack of potatoes," he said.
Orthopaedic surgeon Adam Schiff, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center, used a new minimally invasive technique to repair the ruptured Achilles tendon on Mr. Frias' left leg. The technique requires a smaller incision, minimizes wound healing complications and leaves less scar tissue.
"I would totally recommend the surgery," Mr. Frias said.
Conventional surgical repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon requires a vertical incision five or six inches long. The minimally invasive technique requires a 1 to 1.5 inch horizontal incision that is perpendicular to the Achilles tendon. The surgeon uses a device that allows for most of the repair work to be done outside the body, resulting in a less-invasive approach.
"It's the new trend in foot and ankle surgery," Dr. Schiff said. "For those who qualify, the minimally invasive approach has been very successful."
Achilles tendon rupture is a common injury that typically occurs while running or jumping. Most injuries are sports related, although ruptures also can be caused by workplace injuries or trauma. The typical patient is a middle-age male weekend warrior.
If treated within 48 hours, a ruptured Achilles tendon can be treated non-operatively by wearing a cast for six to eight weeks and then undergoing functional rehabilitation.
Surgical repair reduces the risk of re-rupturing the Achilles, and enables patients to return to work or sports earlier.
The minimally invasive surgical technique is not appropriate for all patients, and it must be done within a week or two of the injury. As in non-surgical repairs, the patient spends four to six weeks in a cast and then undergoes functional rehabilitation.
After completing rehab, Mr. Frias returned to work as a hotel chef, where he is on his feet and does a lot of walking and climbing stairs. He said his repaired Achilles is as good as new. "I'm 500 percent satisfied."