Tendon Transfer Surgery

July 17th, 2017 by LOC Team


What is tendon transfer surgery?

A tendon transfer is typically done to restore normal movement to an ankle and foot after loss of function. This loss of function could be from a stroke or an injury that has resulted in muscle or nerve damage. This damage can decrease the movement that you have in your foot and can lead to the foot becoming twisted or bent making it difficult or very painful to stand, walk of even wear shoes.

A very common issue that can be solved with tendon transfer surgery is the condition known as “foot drop.” Foot drop usually develops after a stroke or injury, and it is where you lose the ability to raise your foot up.

Some tendon transfer surgeries aim to restore the up and down motion of the foot and ankle. Other forms of the surgery will bring the foot into a better position for walking, standing and wearing shoes, but will not increase the range of motion. Which surgery you receive, will depend on the underlying problem causing the issues in your ankle and foot.

What are the goals of tendon transfer surgery?

The main aim of this surgery is to get the foot and ankle into proper alignment again. The alignment can then allow the foot to be braced for standing and walking. In some cases, tendon transfer can eliminate the need for a brace at all. The realignment can do a lot for the pain that stems from certain conditions by distributing pressure evenly across your foot and ankle.

Tendon Transfer Surgery – the procedure

Tendon transfer surgery involves cutting the tendon and rerouteing its path. Its new path will go through soft tissue, around or between bones and connect to another bone in the foot or ankle. If the tendon is long enough, it can be passed through a tunnel which will be drilled through the bone and then sewn to itself. However, if the tendon isn’t quite long enough for this, it can be fastened into the tunnel with a screw made out of metal or plastic. Anchors with sutures can also be used to ensure a proper attachment of the tendon to the bone.

The method of attachment and how it is rerouted will depend on the underlying cause and what your doctors find when they perform tests before the operation. The surgery and how it will be done will be explained to you before the operation takes place. After the rerouteing process has been completed, the soft tissue is closed and you will be placed in a splint.


The splint usually stays in place for 10-14 days. After this, the splint is removed and the sutures are taken out. From there, you will be placed in a cast or a removable boot. You will typically have to keep weight off of your foot for about six weeks after surgery to allow the transfer to heal. Healing can take more or less time depending on what is seen during the surgery, but your doctors will discuss this with you after the surgery has taken place. After six weeks, you’ll be placed in a walking cast and after 12 weeks, this should be removed and you will likely go through physical therapy to aid healing.

We hope you have found this article about tendon transfer usual. Find out more about common foot conditions and the treatments available for them by exploring our blog further.