Tenolysis, also called tendolysis is a surgery that is performed to free or release a tendon affected by adhesion. The procedure is usually performed as part of a limb reconstruction surgery. A tendon is a tough stretchy-like tissue that connects the muscle to the bone. Adhesion occurs when scar tissue forms and binds tendons to the surrounding tissue mostly due to an injury or previous surgery. It mostly happens on the hands and wrists.
Tenolysis prevents the affected body area from working properly. For example, adhesion can prevent the fingers from functioning effectively as the tendons that straighten and bend the finger become stuck in scar tissue.
Reasons for Tenolysis
Tenolysis is done on individuals who have tendon adhesions caused by injury or previous surgery on the affected tendon. This type of surgery is usually done when other therapies have not helped the condition. The goal of tenolysis is to regain full movement of the affected extremity.
Risk Factors Associated with Tenolysis
Although complications are rare, all procedures carry some degree of risk. Risk factors associated with tenolysis include:
- Pain and stiffness
- Blood clot
- Ruptured tendon
- Nerve damage
- Inability to regain full movement of the affected part
Factors that can increase the risk include:
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Chronic problems such as obesity and diabetes
Before the procedure, a doctor will perform a physical exam on you. Tell your doctor if you’re currently taking any medication, supplements, or herbs. You may be asked to stop taking some of the medication about a week before the procedure.
The surgery can take between 45-60 minutes depending on the severity of the affected tendon and you may need to stay in hospital for about 1-2 days for observation.
There are two options of anesthesia that may be used, and they include:
- Local anesthesia in which the treatment area will be numbed but you’ll be awake
- General anesthesia in which you’ll be asleep
During the procedure, a tourniquet will be tied near the treatment area to prevent blood flow to the area. An incision is made in the skin thus exposing the tendon and the surrounding tissues. The tissue is then cut to release the tendon. The surgeon will then check your ability to move the affected area as the surgery is going on. This will determine if the surgery has worked or not and if additional procedures may be needed such as tendon reconstruction. The incision is closed with stitches.
Immediately after the procedure you will be taken to recovery where you’ll be monitored carefully. You will be given pain medication, medication to prevent blood clots, and antibiotics to prevent infection. The affected area will be protected with a brace or splint.
The incision will take a few weeks to heal and physical activities should be limited during the recovery.
If you notice any unusual signs during your recovery, contact your doctor for clarification.
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