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New Approach Offers Minimally Invasive Way Of Repairing Torn Achilles

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A new minimally invasive surgery technique for repairing a torn Achilles tendon has been developed by surgeons in the United States.

Tearing, or rupturing, of the Achilles tendon can occur suddenly during sporting activity. While not especially painful, the injury will hinder the ability to walk normally. It´s important to treat a torn Achilles tendon as soon as possible, to help it heal well.

The percutaneous Achilles repair system, or PARS technique, preserves damaged tissue and was recently performed at Houston Methodist Hospital. According to the healthcare provider, this approach enables surgeons to better repair the Achilles tendon through a smaller incision.

During the surgery, a 2cm horizontal incision is made about 4-6cm above the heel to insert the PARS device up towards the knee. This special device has four prongs – two that go inside the leg to hold the tendon in place and two that go outside the leg. The prongs themselves have eight small holes that enable the surgeon to pass needles and suture thread through the tendon. The device is then inserted down towards the ankle and the process is repeated. In the final stage of the procedure the surgeon pulls the threads taut and secures the two ends of the tendon together.

The technique is claimed to help the tendon heal better because of the smaller incision and the fact that it saves the tissues of the Achilles. An additional benefit is that the tendon will heal with a thinner contour, improving the appearance of the ankle after surgery.

The PARS technique is not suitable for all patients. For example, the tear must not be more than 10 to 12 days old because otherwise scar tissue would need to be removed for the tendon to fully function.

Still, foot and ankle specialist Kevin Varner, M.D., Houston Methodist orthopedic surgeon, believes it is a promising new way to promote healing. “The Achilles has a tremendous capacity to heal, so I believe preserving the damaged tissue with the PARS technique is better for the biology of the healing tendon,” he said.