Achilles Tendon Surgery Reduces Complications | News | Loyola Medicine
Monday, February 9, 2015

Minimally invasive Achilles tendon surgery reduces complications

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.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.