MAYWOOD, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2015) – Brian Frias was rounding second base and heading to third when he heard a sharp snap in his Achilles tendon.
"I went down like a sack of potatoes," he said.
Orthopaedic surgeon Adam Schiff, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center, used a new minimally invasive technique to repair the ruptured Achilles tendon on Mr. Frias’ left leg. The technique requires a smaller incision, minimizes wound healing complications and leaves less scar tissue.
"I would totally recommend the surgery," Mr. Frias said.
Conventional surgical repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon requires a vertical incision five or six inches long. The minimally invasive technique requires a 1 to 1.5 inch horizontal incision that is perpendicular to the Achilles tendon. The surgeon uses a device that allows for most of the repair work to be done outside the body, resulting in a less-invasive approach.
"It’s the new trend in foot and ankle surgery," Dr. Schiff said. "For those who qualify, the minimally invasive approach has been very successful."
Achilles tendon rupture is a common injury that typically occurs while running or jumping. Most injuries are sports related, although ruptures also can be caused by workplace injuries or trauma. The typical patient is a middle-age male weekend warrior.
If treated within 48 hours, a ruptured Achilles tendon can be treated non-operatively by wearing a cast for six to eight weeks and then undergoing functional rehabilitation.
Surgical repair reduces the risk of re-rupturing the Achilles, and enables patients to return to work or sports earlier.
The minimally invasive surgical technique is not appropriate for all patients, and it must be done within a week or two of the injury. As in non-surgical repairs, the patient spends four to six weeks in a cast and then undergoes functional rehabilitation.
After completing rehab, Mr. Frias returned to work as a hotel chef, where he is on his feet and does a lot of walking and climbing stairs. He said his repaired Achilles is as good as new. "I’m 500 percent satisfied."
Dr. Schiff specializes in treating foot and ankle problems. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.