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There are two types of surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon:
In both types of surgery, the surgeon sews the tendon back together through the incision(s). Surgery may be delayed for about a week after the rupture, to let the swelling go down.
After either type of surgery, you will likely wear a cast, walking boot, or similar device for 6 to 12 weeks. At first, the cast or boot is positioned to keep the foot pointed downward as the tendon heals. The cast or boot is then adjusted gradually to put the foot in a neutral position (not pointing up or down). Many health professionals recommend starting movement and weight-bearing exercises early, before the cast or boot comes off. Your total recovery time will probably be as long as 6 months.
This surgery is done to repair an Achilles tendon that has been torn into two pieces.
Both open and percutaneous surgeries are successful. More than 80 out of 100 people who have surgery for an Achilles tendon rupture are able to return to all the activities they did before the injury, including returning to sports.footnote 1
It is sometimes difficult to know how surgeries compare, because the ages and activities of those having the surgeries differ. The success of your surgery can depend on your surgeon's experience, the type of surgical procedure used, the extent of tendon damage, how soon after rupture the surgery is done, and how soon your rehabilitation program starts after surgery and how well you follow it.
Talk to your surgeon about his or her surgical experience and success rate with the technique that would best treat your condition.
The risks of Achilles tendon surgery include:
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.
An Achilles tendon rupture is usually treated with surgery or with a cast, splint, brace, or other device that will keep your lower leg and ankle from moving (immobilization). Compared to immobilization, surgery provides a shorter recovery period and a reduced risk that the tendon will rupture again. There is greater risk for wound complications in surgery, though.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
CitationsKhan RJK, Smith RLC (2010). Surgical interventions for treating acute Achilles tendon ruptures. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
Current as ofMarch 21, 2017
Current as of: March 21, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
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