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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Flexor Tendon Repair

Contact: (0191) 282 5647 - Sister or Nurse in Charge, Ward 47, RVI


IntroductionShow [+]Hide [-]

This information sheet is intended to help you understand the operation and the aftercare that will be necessary to achieve the best possible results.

What is a Flexor Tendon?

A flexor tendon is a structure in the forearm, which runs down to the fingers and causes the fingers to bend into the palm. There are two flexor tendons to each finger and one long flexor tendon to the thumb. Division of a tendon prevents the fingers or thumb from moving. Sometimes this cut tendon moves away from its normal position.

During your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

The operation may be carried out under either local or general anaesthetic. An information leaflet is available which will provide you with the details you require regarding your anaesthetic (The Trust Information Leaflet ‘You and Your Anaesthetic’).

A tourniquet is applied to the affected arm. It is similar to a blood pressure cuff and is filled with air. This helps the surgeon maintain a dry, blood free operation site during the procedure. The wound is explored and further incisions may be required to be made in order to retrieve the tendon ends. The tendon is repaired with stitches. The incisions in the hand and/or forearm are closed by stitches with a dressing and bandage applied and maybe a Plaster of Paris splint. This holds your fingers in the most comfortable position and to protect the tendon repair.

After the operation you will return to the ward. For most patients the length of stay is overnight after the operation, but occasionally you may be allowed home that same day.

Appointments will be given to you to have the stitches removed at 10 days and to attend for physiotherapy. You will be reviewed in an outpatient clinic in approximately two months. Your wounds should be kept covered by dressings until the stitches are removed. You will be seen by our physiotherapist following your surgery and you will be given exercises to perform to move your fingers. The splint may need to be changed or modified. It is very important for you to work with your physiotherapist in order to get the best results from the tendon repair. Your splint should not be removed unless instructed by your physiotherapist or doctor.

Initially you should refrain from driving. Your Consultant will advise you on this.

What are the risks?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If the wound becomes infected you may require a course of antibiotics.
  • At first your scar may be tender or painful.
  • Your wound may not heal properly and you may require regular dressings until it does.
  • When it is cold your hand may feel uncomfortable, discoloured or stiff.
  • Stiff finger joints.
  • Breaking of the tendon repair, which would require a further operation.
  • Sticking of the tendon to scar tissue may require a further operation at a later date.
  • Very rarely there is an alteration in the way your hand sweats, this may cause swelling and discomfort.
  • Bending (Contracture) of the finger towards the palm.

For most patients this operation does not involve these complications and they are pleased with the results of surgery. This sheet is not a complete list of all the possible complications, but it is provided to act as an additional source of information, following your discussion about the operation.

If you require any further information or advice please contact:

Sister or Nurse in Charge Plastic Surgery Out Patient Department, RVI

Telephone:  (0191) 282 4228 (direct line) Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm, or

Sister or Nurse in Charge Ward 47, RVI

Telephone:  (0191) 282 5647 (direct line) anytime

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