Aug 30, 2018
Smaller Incision, Better Recovery

A new technique may help with repairing torn Achilles tendons. KCUR-89.3 explains that Kirk McCullough, MD, of Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic of Kansas City, LLC, has used an innovative technique that centers on a minimal incision for the surgery.

“We decrease their risk of having a wound complication that has devastated professional and amateur athletes alike while, at the same time, giving them a much more reliable chance to get back to their pre-injury function,” Dr. McCullough said.

This allows the repair for Achilles injuries to be made more easily. Introduced by Arthrex, the mini incision allows surgeons to repair the rupture without the potential for issues relating to infection and wound-healing. The technique uses a nondisposable, anatomically contoured guide, and the surgeon has an option of using transverse and/or locking sutures. After the incision has healed, the tendon can achieve a more natural contour than would occur from a more traditional technique.

“I would like to say that the complications, or lack thereof, following all the new inventions of surgery and the new advancement of surgical procedures have been a welcomed change,” Aaron Borgmann, PT, ATC, Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the Kansas City Chiefs, said.

Although Achilles injuries don’t happen as frequently as knee and ankle injuries, they carry serious implications. In some instances, a torn Achilles can result in ending a career.

Ike Opara, a defender for Sporting Kansas City soccer, was considering retiring after he tore his Achilles in 2015. Although he was ready to call it quits, Opara opted to have the mini incision procedure, which acted as “the kick-start for me to switch my mindset from possibly retirement to getting things back into full gear.”

After going through the rehab process following the mini incision, athletes may have a greater chance to return to activity. For amateurs, this can be daunting but will likely improve with time.

“[Weekend warriors who have been injured often ask], ‘Does it ever get better?'” Opara said. “I think a lot [of] people at times take one step forward and they take two or three steps back. They think there is no end in sight.”

Image by Ryan Knapp.

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