Patella Tendon Repair


  • Patellar tendon repair is surgery to fix your damaged patellar tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and together with muscles, work to move your arms, legs, fingers, and toes. The patellar tendon is located at the knee. It attaches to the front of the tibia (shin bone) and bottom of the patella (kneecap). Patellar tendon repair is done when the tendon is partially or completely torn. A complete tendon rupture may be acute or chronic based on the duration of time from injury. Injuries that occurred within six weeks are considered as acute, and after six weeks they are chronic. Distal tendon ruptures (tendon ruptures far from the knee) are injuries that usually need surgery. The repair will depend on the location, duration, and extent of the injury, and the age of the patient.

  • During surgery, caregivers repair the injured patellar tendon by reattaching the ends back together. The tendon may also be sewn to the bone using special tools, such as buttons and screws. This is usually done for chronic tendon injuries. Tendons taken from other parts of the body may also be used to replace damaged tendons. After surgery you may need a splint or cast to protect the tendon and help it heal. You may need to do special exercises to help build the strength back in your knees. With repair of the patellar tendon, your regular knee movements may be returned, and normal activities restored.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • There are always risks with surgery. You could get an infection, bleed too much, or have trouble breathing. Sometimes, even after surgery, the knee may not go back to the way it was before. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This problem can be life-threatening.

  • If you do not have surgery, the pain and problems you have when moving your knee or leg may worsen. Your knee may get weak or you may have problems walking. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities, including sports. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your injury, treatment, or care.


Before surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure or surgery. This medicine may make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your procedure or surgery will be done, and then you are moved to a table or bed.

  • Monitoring:

    • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

    • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

    • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

  • Anesthesia: This is medicine to make you comfortable during surgery. Caregivers work with you to decide which anesthesia is best and whether you will be awake or completely asleep.

During surgery:

  • You will be placed on your back and a pillow will be placed under your hip. A rubber cuff called a tourniquet may be put around your thigh. This slows down the blood flow to the knee. Your caregiver will clean your lower limb with soap and water. This soap may make your skin yellow, but it will be cleaned off later. Sheets are put over you to keep the surgery area clean.

  • An incision (cut) is made in the front of your knee, over the injured tendon. Caregivers carefully check the joint to look for the tendon's torn ends and other problems. The area is cleaned and the torn edges of the tendon are cut out. The ends are sewn back together or to the bone. If it will be sewn on the bone, caregivers will drill holes in the end of the thigh bone. Stitches (threads) are sewn on the tendon and then inserted through the holes and tied.

  • A tendon from another part of the body may be needed if the injury is chronic. This will make the shortened tendon longer so it reaches the bone where it will be attached. Tapes or wires may also be passed through the drilled holes to add strength to the repaired tendon. If a large portion of bone is pulled off with the torn ligament, it may be reattached using screws. Caregivers compare the patella to the unaffected knee to make sure that it is in the right position. The incision is then closed using stitches and covered with bandages. A splint, brace, or cast will be placed on your knee. This will protect the tendon and keep it from moving while it heals.

After surgery:

You are taken to a room where your heart and breathing will be monitored. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. A bandage may cover wounds to help prevent infection. You may be able to go home after some time passes. If you had general anesthetic, an adult will need to drive you home. Your driver or someone else should stay with you for 24 hours. If you cannot go home, you will be taken to a hospital room.

  • Medicines: You may be given the following medicines:

    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.

    • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

  • Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.