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Thread: Thinking about tendon transfer

  1. #1

    Cool Thinking about tendon transfer

    Ok, so we met with a plastic surgeon yesterday that specializes in tendon transfer surgeries and after discussing how it would benefit me, I'm pretty much ready to go ahead. He said that because of the level of function that I do have as a C6/7(full tri's, good wrist flexion, etc.) I am a great candidate and would reccommend two separate surgeries. The first would give me independent use and pinch of my thumb. The second would give me a grasp or grip with my fingers. That's the exciting part.

    Now for the not so exciting part. Each surgery will require about 5 weeks in a cast followed by a month or two of rehab. Most of this time will require zero weight bearing, which means renting a powerchair, dependant transfers, help eating, cathing, pretty much everything. Oh yeah, these surgeries would not be done at the same time so this would all happen twice.

    Has anyone gone through this or a similar procedure? I am curious about how much it benefitted them, would they do it again, was it worth taking ten steps backward for 6 months or so?

    I still have to check the insurance end, not only for the surgery but also for the chair, additional home health care etc. I am hoping for the best.

    Please, any comments positive or negative would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Ike, I´ll move this to the Care forum for more feedback.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  3. #3
    I've seen some people benefit from tendon transfers and others who have not. In some cases, I've wondered what the goal could have been. I noticed that the surgeon tends to describe the procedure in terms of the anatomical structures involved and movements which could result from the transfer surgery. You might get a better idea of the actual benefits of having the surgery if you can get the surgeon to discuss outcomes in terms of what functional tasks you might expect to do if the surgery is successful. Being able to "pinch" is OK, but being able to hold a pen implies much more.

  4. #4
    I've had tendon transfers, although mine were done in the dark ages decades ago.

    If you google "tendon transfers" in the upper right hand corner of CC, you'll find lots of info from those of us who've had them.

    One of mine didn't work and the other one did.

    If you have specific questions, feel free to hit me up.

  5. #5
    Tendon transfers can help immensely in increasing function, but the advice that you got to find out what type of functional goals you could have is good advice. You also need to know that some insurers will pay for the surgery, but not the additional care that you need. Please check that out also. Also ask if you could lose function should the transfer not work out.
    The more questions you ask, the better prepared you will be for making your decision.

  6. #6
    I have had two muscle transfer surgery. I agreed with one of your earlier replies. You absolutely need to weigh how much functional benefit will result from the surgery. I'm a C4-5 quadraplegic. I did get worth while results, but obviously nothing as much as you'd like. I did have a surgeon evaluate if I qualified for a pinch, but to make the pinch worth while the numbers didn't add up. Example being, the pinch was obtainable but the muscle strength in my arm wasn't enough to realistically use the pinch enough to justify the energy loss in my arm. So, personally I decided keeping my muscle strength for driving my wheelchair and eating limited items. Something else to consider is during the casting process you lose muscle strength and mass due to the inactivity. This type of surgery is a wonderful benefit, but something that needs to be thought about because after the fact there's no turning back. You definitely have to be ready to work (therapy). I wish you well.

  7. #7
    2 separate surgeries? This makes no sense to me. I have had both arms done with pinch and grip obtained in 1 surgery for each arm. I would consult with another Dr. as I've never heard of this. Do you have any movement/control of either hand? This movement will generally be lost after this surgery. Feel free to pm with any questions.

    Read these links..

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