Tendon Transfer Surgery

What is tendon transfer surgery?

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone and help control force of movement. Any injury, disease or neurological condition — such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cerebral palsy or a traumatic brain injury — may impact nerve signaling and cause the tendon to stop working with the muscle. Any injury, disease or neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy or a traumatic brain injury, may impact nerve signaling and cause the tendon to stop working with the muscle. A tendon transfer may be recommended if you have nerve damage that affects the body's ability to signal muscle movement, such as to the hand or foot.

Orthopaedics at Main Line Health offers highly-skilled orthopaedic surgeons with expertise in tendon transfer surgery to help you improve range of motion in your affected joints and regain independence.

What to expect from tendon transfer surgery

In order for tendon transfer surgery to be successful, you must have healthy, working tendons in other areas, and the muscle and bone in the area where the transfer takes place must also be healthy and working. In some cases, a donor tendon (from someone other than you) may be used.

In a tendon transfer surgery, the tendon that is no longer working is replaced and a new tendon is attached to the surrounding bone. This allows nerve signals to once again communicate and cause the tendon to do its job of tensing and causing movement and flexion.

Depending on the condition of the surrounding area, your surgeon may sew the new tendon into a different bone or a different tendon, to facilitate better signaling along nerves and muscles.

Recovering from tendon transfer surgery

Recovery from tendon transfer surgery will require a splint or cast to stabilize the area until it has had time to heal, which may take one to two months. Physical therapy exercises also help you to regain strength and mobility, and to minimize scarring (excess buildup of tissue) which could cause stiffness.

Main Line Health offers an orthopaedic care team specializing in treatments and therapies for diseases and injuries affecting the tendons.


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