Pediatric Sports Medicine: Surgical Procedures
Surgical options for your child from a range of proven techniques
For more extensive or severe sports-related injuries, non-surgical treatment options may not be enough. However, orthopedic surgery is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. Just as each injury and patient is unique, our pediatric specialists choose the most appropriate surgical options for your child from a range of proven techniques.
We regularly perform the following types of surgical procedures, many of which can be scheduled and performed on an outpatient basis at our Outpatient Clinic or at Hurley Medical Center:
Achilles Tear Surgery
If more conservative treatment options are not effective for an Achilles tear injury, surgery may be recommended. There are two primary types of surgery to repair a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon, depending on the location, nature and severity of the injury: “open,” which involves a single, large incision, and “percutaneous,” which comprises several small incisions. In both types of surgery, the surgeon sews the tendon back together through the incision or incisions.
Our surgeons have extensive experience in arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that allows surgeons to diagnose and treat joint injuries without making large incisions. For the young patient, this means less pain and faster recovery times. Arthroscopic surgery is not limited to simple procedures; even complicated surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis.
During arthroscopic surgery, your child's surgeon will make tiny incisions in the skin and insert an arthroscope, a pencil-sized lens and lighting system. The arthroscope magnifies internal structures and is attached to a miniature television camera, which then projects the image onto a screen, allowing the surgeon to see the injured area and tissues. Joints most frequently assessed and operated on using arthroscopic surgery include the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, hip and wrist.
Meniscus Repair Surgery
Meniscus repair involves stitching together the torn tissue in the knee using dissolvable sutures. Tears on the outer edges of the meniscus tend to heal more quickly and effectively because that area receives a better blood supply. Tears on the inner edges of the meniscus, even after repair surgery, tend not to heal as well.
There are two general types of meniscus repair surgery:
- Partial meniscectomy, in which only the torn cartilage removed, is typically performed for tears of the inner areas of the meniscus.
- Total meniscectomy, which involves removal of all of the cartilage followed by a graft of donor tissue, is typically performed when the tear is severe.
Open-knee surgery is also called an arthrotomy. Open-knee surgery uses large incisions to get to the knee joint, as compared to arthroscopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure. This complex surgery may be required when the damage to the knee joint is very severe.
Most shoulder surgery can be done arthroscopically; however, sometimes a better result can be achieved with open surgery. Open-shoulder surgery may be required to remove or shave bone spurs located in hard-to-reach areas; to repair extensive rotator cuff tears; to repair ligaments, blood vessels and nerves that have been badly damaged as the result of shoulder dislocations; to realign bones, stabilize the injured joint and repair stretched ligaments associated with fractured collarbones or shoulder separations; and to repair or replace shoulder joints damaged by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Recovery Following Surgery
Recovery following any type of surgery for a sports injury depends on your child and the extent of the injury. While most surgeries can be performed on an outpatient basis, your child will be required to rest the joint fully for a minimum of several weeks up to a month or two.
Immediately following surgery, your child will be given or prescribed appropriate pain medications and will be instructed to ice and elevate the joint. Your child's surgeon will follow up with him/her to ensure that he/she is healing appropriately and to provide additional instructions based on the rate of recovery. Eventually, your child will likely be given exercises that he/she can perform at home to strengthen the joint before beginning a physical therapy and rehabilitation program (if necessary).
Again, depending on the nature and extent of your child's injury, full recovery may take from two to six months.