Washington: Scientists have revealed that a new minimally-invasive surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon actually uses the damaged tissue to help repair the tear.
The percutaneous Achilles repair system, or PARS technique, enables surgeons to better repair a torn Achilles tendon through a smaller incision. This procedure was recently performed at Houston Methodist Hospital to treat an NFL cornerback, getting him back on field for this season.
Kevin Varner, M.D., Houston Methodist orthopedic surgeon and foot and ankle specialist, said that the Achilles does not tear cleanly, rather it shreds like a mop, so without proper treatment, it just becomes a ball of fibers and they would cut out all of the damaged tissue to create two clean ends and sew those ends of the tendon together.
The Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, connects the two calf muscles to the heel bone. When you walk, the tendon pulls the ankle down, so a properly functioning Achilles tendon is essential to walking. When the Achilles tendon tears, or ruptures, most feel a pop in the ankle, like someone hit their foot from behind. Achilles tears are not painful, but will cause weakness in the ankle that can prevent someone from walking on their own.
The surgery requires a two centimetre, horizontal incision about four to six centimetres above the heel to insert the PARS device up towards the knee. The PARS device has four prongs - two that go inside the leg to hold the tendon in place and two that go outside the leg.
All four prongs have eight small holes that enable the surgeon to pass needles and suture thread all the way through the tendon. Then, the device is inserted down towards the ankle and the process is repeated. The surgeon will then pull the threads tautly and secure the two ends of the tendon together.