Patellar and quadriceps tendon ruptures from indirect injury in athletes represent the end stage of jumper's knee and result from repetitive micro trauma. Acute unilateral tears of the patella tendon are relatively rare injuries seen most often in athletes with pre-existing micro trauma or excessive loading from jumping or repetitive running. Athletes at risk of patellar tendon ruptures exhibit signs and symptoms of chronic anterior knee pain called "Jumpers Knee"-often seen in basketball players.
The procedure is performed under general or regional anesthesia and involves reattaching the torn tendons to the knee cap by passing the tendon through drill holes in the patella for fixation using heavy absorbable non-breakable sutures. Primary repair of the defect may be augmented by a cerclage of wire, suture or screw when the integrity of the tissue is questionable.
The knees are immobilized in hinged braces for 6 to 8 weeks until the integrity of the repair has been confirmed by the operating surgeon. Physical therapy and gradual increases in allowable levels of flexion using the hinged brace begin when the tendon repair is deemed stable. Continuous passive motion generally can be initiated early with a secure repair. Active full extension of the knee may take as long as 6 months.