Extensor Tendon Repair

Tendons are strong, flexible bands of connective tissue that attach muscles to bones. They play an extremely important role in the function of the hand and injury to the tendons can cause loss of hand function. The degree and severity of impairment depends on which specific tendon or tendons are injured. Common classes of tendons that suffer injury are the extensor tendons, which straighten out the fingers. The most serious of tendon injuries is a ruptured tendon, where there is a complete separation of a tendon into two parts. This type of injury is usually the result of trauma.

Surgery to repair a ruptured tendon involves making an incision, locating both ends of the tendon, and suturing them back together. If a rupture is left untreated, the two tendon ends shorten over time, making repair more difficult as more time passes. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you will be able to go home on the same day of the surgery. You will be discharged with a temporary splint that must be kept clean and dry until you are seen for follow up appointment. Keeping the affected arm elevated on a couple of pillows can alleviate pain and swelling.  

At your first follow up appointment, you will be given a prescription for a dorsal blocking splint, IPs free. You will wear the splint at all times, expect when showering. You may shower in 48 hours after surgery; however, it is important that you do not submerge your surgical incision in water (i.e. no bath tubs, swimming pools, washing dishes, etc.). While showering it is important you do not use the affected hand. After shower pat incision dry, and replace splint. 

Typically, sutures will be removed 10-14 days after surgery. In some cases sutures will remain in for about 4 weeks to help secure extensor tendon. After suture removal, follow up appointments will be scheduled about every 2 weeks to monitor your recovery process. You will keep the splint on for 4 weeks, and then begin occupational/physical therapy. 

You may resume your regular diet after surgery; however, you should start slow. It is a good idea to start with things like toast, Jell-O, crackers, and soup to see how your stomach tolerates food after anesthesia. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or Gatorade and limit your intake of sodas, coffee and other caffeinated beverages.  

We will send you home with a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain medication. It is important to take your antibiotic and pain medication with food to prevent nausea (unless you are instructed otherwise). Do not take your pain medication and antibiotic at the same time as this may upset your stomach; separate them by an hour or two. You cannot drive while taking pain medication.

Should you develop any of the following signs and or symptoms of possible infection, call our office immediately:

  1. Fever over 100.3
  2. Chills or night sweats
  3. Unusual swelling, redness, or warmth to your incision site
  4. Purulent drainage from incision site.

Please do not hesitate to call our office with any concerns or questions you may have.

Please remember the above instructions are only a guide. Always listen to the instructions given by your healthcare provider and follow those if in conflict with any listed above

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