The quadriceps muscles attach to the patella (kneecap) by the quadriceps tendon. When the quadriceps tendon is injured, there is loss of continuity between the quadriceps muscles and the patella and thus loss of function of the quadriceps muscles. The function of the quadriceps muscles is to straighten the knee or slow the knee during bending or squatting. This means that if someone suffers a complete rupture of the tendon they will be unable to fully straighten their knee or walk normally without the knee giving out. The quadriceps tendon is usually torn by a sudden episode of stressful over-activity, such as with jumping, hurdling, or starting a sprint. Repairing the tendon back to the patella is recommended in almost all circumstances since the quadriceps is needed able to walk normally and perform other daily activities.
The goal of the surgery is to repair the torn quadriceps tendon back to the patella to restore normal knee mechanics. Dr. Chudik identifies the torn end of the tendon through a limited incision just over the kneecap. Once identified, sutures are passed through the tendon and then through three small tunnels in the kneecap. These sutures are tied on the opposite side of the kneecap to hold the tendon in place. This repair is connected by keeping the knee locked in a brace in full extension.