Severed Tendons

Tendons are made of fibrous tissue and connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries are caused by cuts to the hand by glass or knives.

There are two groups of tendon in the hand – extensor tendons straighten the fingers and thumb, and flexor tendons bend them.

If one or more tendons are severed there will be a loss of movement, and surgical repair will be required.

It is important that the correct diagnosis is made as soon as possible, to give the best chance of a successful repair. If diagnosis is delayed then it may be impossible to repair the tendon, due to thickening of the tendon ends or because the ends have retracted.

In this situation the damaged tendon may be replaced by a tendon graft taken from elsewhere in the body, usually the forearm or lower leg.

A successful outcome from tendon repair surgery can never be guaranteed, and tendon graft surgery in particular has a high failure rate, but early diagnosis increases the chances of success.

Missed or delayed diagnosis of a severed tendon may result in permanently restricted movement.

Case report: failure to diagnose severed tendon

A partner in our Clinical Negligence Department, negotiated an award of £15,000.00 on behalf of a 28 year old man who attended A&E after cutting his left little finger on sheet metal at work.

Although the range of movement in the finger was noted to be limited, this was attributed to pain and the possibility of a severed tendon was not considered.

The correct diagnosis was not made until almost 3 months later, by which time the tendon had retracted. The claimant required two operations to reconstruct it using a graft, followed by a lengthy course of rehabilitation.

For confidential advice on how we can help with making a medical negligence claim for this condition contact us on 0113 2845000 or

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