Limited-Incision Knotless Achilles Tendon Repair

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Keeping the jig centralized in neutral rotation minimizes improper suture passing and avoids iatrogenic injury to the medial and lateral neurovascular structures. During suture passing, all needles (1.6 mm) with nitinol loops are first used unloaded without suture. The first 2 needles are inserted into their respective, numbered holes, through the tendon, and then through the opposite side of the jig. Each needle is checked to make sure that it does not pass outside the jig. Having 2 needles within the jig and tendon at all times during suture passing helps stabilize the jig and avoids adjacent suture piercing with the subsequent needle.

A No. 2 FiberWire suture (Arthrex) is then passed through the first hole using the needle suture passer and made even in length on both sides. The specific colors of the suture are not important, but the order of the sutures placed is. An assistant can write down the colors and order of the sutures passed. Before the second suture is passed, the first needle is inserted back through the jig and tendon into the third hole. The third and fourth sutures (green-striped) differ from the other sutures in that one end has a loop and the other has a tail, and they are passed in an oblique, crossing pattern. These sutures later help create a locking suture on either side of the tendon.

After these sutures are passed, the final result should be 1 green-striped loop and 1 green-striped tail on either side of the tendon. The fifth suture is passed straight across the tendon in a trajectory similar to that of the first suture. In large laborers, obese patients, and elite athletes, 2 additional green-striped sutures can be passed through the optional sixth and seventh holes to create an additional locking suture.

PARS Jig Removal and Suture Management

After all sutures are passed, the turn wheel is used to narrow the inner prongs while gentle, controlled tension is applied to the jig to remove it from the wound (Figures 2A-2C).

Figure 2.
All sutures from both sides of the tendon should emerge from the wound. Before the jig is completely pulled out, a hemostat is used through each loop of sutures to guide them out of the wound and reduce tangling. Both pairs of sutures are pulled distally to ensure adequate proximal fixation.

Pullout of any suture from the tendon indicates that the tendon was not centered in the jig or was not proximal enough along the tendon during suture passing. If a suture pulls out, it is removed, and the previous steps are repeated with close attention paid to tendon positioning within the jig. It is not advised to extend the incision longitudinally on either end of the transverse incision, as doing so can lead to potential wound-healing complications. After proximal fixation is achieved, all sutures on each side of the tendon are neatly spread apart in the following order from proximal to distal: first suture, second suture, looped green-striped (third) suture, tail green-striped (fourth) suture, fifth suture. The second suture on both sides is then looped around the 2 green-striped sutures and back proximally through the looped end of the green-striped suture.

The green-striped suture tail is pulled through the tendon to the opposite side to create a locking suture on both sides of the tendon. In the end, there are 2 nonlocking sutures and 1 locking suture on either side of the tendon. Each pair of sutures is pulled distally to confirm fixation and remove any initial suture creep from the system. A hemostat is placed on each group of 3 sutures to keep them out of the way during distal anchor preparation.

Distal Anchor Preparation and Banana SutureLasso Passing

Two longitudinal 5-mm incisions are made along the posterior aspect of the heel just distal to the area of maximal heel convexity. Incisions are spaced 1.5 cm apart along the sides of the Achilles tendon insertion. A 3.5-mm drill and a drill guide are used through each incision and placed flush against bone (Figures 3A-3E).

Figure 3.
The drill is inserted into bone oriented slightly proximally and toward midline until it bottoms out against the guide. Each drill hole is then tapped to receive a 4.75-mm SwiveLock anchor (Arthrex).

A Banana SutureLasso (Arthrex) with inner nitinol wire is passed through the center of the distal Achilles tendon stump and out the proximal incision to retrieve one side of the proximal sutures. SutureLasso passage through tendon can be facilitated with tactile feedback. The surgeon’s nondominant thumb is placed directly against the distal tendon while the dominant hand grasps the SutureLasso with the thumb near the tip. As the SutureLasso is advanced proximally through the tendon, the surgeon can feel its tip meeting mild resistance. Confirm that the tip of the SutureLasso is in the center of the distal tendon by direct visual inspection through the wound.

The inner nitinol wire is advanced 2 cm to 3 cm out of the tip of the SutureLasso, and sutures are passed through the distal Achilles tendon. During suture passing, the nitinol wire is drawn back to the tip of the SutureLasso, and then the entire SutureLasso is removed from the distal incision. Trying to pass the sutures only through the inner nitinol wire can result in suture tangling and increased resistance. The process is then repeated for the sutures on the opposite side. Suture pairs are placed under maximal tension and cycled multiple times (5-10) to remove any residual proximal suture creep.10

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