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.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
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.1
An Achilles tendon rupture is
usually treated with surgery or with a cast, splint, brace, or other device
that will keep your lower leg from moving (immobilization).
When compared with immobilization, surgery provides less chance that the tendon
will rupture again and offers a shorter recovery period. 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.
Khan RJK, Smith RLC (2010). Surgical interventions for
treating acute Achilles tendon ruptures. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9).
January 3, 2013
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& David Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
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