Foot autumn occurs when the muscles and tendons that flex the foot up room no longer working. Commonly, that is the an outcome of a nerve injury, stroke, or nerve an illness (neuropathy). It also can take place after an injury come a muscle or tendon. If a human is unable to flex the foot up when walking, the foot or toes deserve to drag on the ground. This have the right to make walking an overwhelming and lead to frequent falls.

You are watching: Tendon transfer for foot drop

The score of a foot fall procedure is to enhance a patient"s capability to proactively flex the foot and ankle up in cases where this role is weak or shed completely.


When the muscles the flex the foot up room not working, yet other muscles about the foot and also ankle still function, tendon carry surgery can be helpful.If there is no muscle function at the ankle, this procedure can not be performed. A patient must have actually some functioning muscles because that a tendon transport procedure to it is in successful.


A patient through foot drop. The patient is unable to flex your foot up, resulting in their foot and also toes to drag on the ground.


Usually, early stage treatment involves use of an off-the-shelf or tradition brace dubbed an AFO (ankle foot orthosis), which help to improve the position of the foot while a person is walking. When this brace is no longer helpful, surgery deserve to be considered. Girlfriend should talk about your choices with your foot and also ankle orthopaedic surgeon prior to proceeding through surgery.

The surgical procedure because that a foot drop is referred to as a tendon transfer. In general, a tendon move is a procedure in i beg your pardon a tendon (and fastened muscle) that is still working is taken native one component of the foot and moved come another part of the foot to try to replace the lacking muscle function. The most usual tendon transferred is the posterior tibial tendon.

Specific Technique

A posterior tibial tendon transport procedure have the right to involve the posterior tibial tendon alone or transfer v two other tendons, the peroneus longus and also the anterior tibialis. Once all three tendons are used it is called a Bridle procedure.

Multiple incisions are essential to move the tendon indigenous one position to another. The posterior tibial tendon is taken turn off its insertion ~ above the navicular bone on the inner side of the foot. This is the first incision. A 2nd incision is made over the ankle and the tendon and muscle space identified. The tendon is pulled right into this second incision and also then moved in in between the tibia and also fibula bones to the front of the ankle.

Another scratch is do on the top of the foot in ~ the bone to which the tendon is walk to be transferred. The tendon is routed under the skin to this bone and fixed into a tunnel in the bone.


The typical location of incisions top top the inner side of the foot and ankle.

If a Bridle procedure is performed, a 2nd tendon, the peroneus longus, is cut over the level of the fishing eye on the outer side of the leg. This tendon is climate routed come the front of the ankle and also the cost-free end is attached to the posterior tibial tendon and also the anterior tibial tendon in a bridle configuration. V this build the posterior tibial muscle pulls on all three tendons to traction the foot up. The posterior tibial tendon is routed come the height of the foot as defined above.

Occasionally, the ankle can be an extremely stiff from long-standing weakness. If it is not possible to traction the fishing eye up because that attachment of the tendon transfer, the Achilles tendon is lengthened to aid bring the foot and also ankle up. This is excellent either through an incision on the calf or one incision appropriate over the Achilles tendon. The ar of the incision is based on which section of the Achilles is also tight.


The fish eye is placed in a splint in the operating room to host the place of the foot and ankle and also protect the recently transferred tendon(s). Strict elevation and non-weightbearing are enforced over the very first 10 come 14 days. Darn are removed in about two weeks, after i beg your pardon the foot will certainly be in a cast for around six weeks. The patient usually is non-weightbearing throughout this time.

Once the cast is removed, the patient will certainly be enabled to go in a unique boot. Physical therapy to retrain the tendon(s) in its brand-new position proceeds for 8-12 weeks. A night splint is worn for 3 months after surgical procedure to avoid premature extending of the tendon transfer.

As swelling boosts a custom-molded brace have the right to be worn in an athletic shoe and also the walker boot is discontinued. Once the patient’s strength and also motion are enhanced with physics therapy, the brace might be discontinued. The score of the surgery is for the patience to go in a regular shoe without the need for a brace.

Risks and also Complications

Potential symptom of this therapy can include wound infection, deep infection that can compromise the tendon transfer, and also failure that the tendon or tearing of the repair.


Will I have "normal" ankle movement after this procedure?A foot autumn procedure alters the function of the fish eye and allows a patient to walk without a brace. However, it is not feasible to restore normal strength and full range of motion with this procedure.

Will I be able to pull up my toes?Often a nerve injury that causes a foot drop also limits the capability to pull up the toes. The tendon move will not regain this function. If this is a concern, make certain that you mention it to your doctor.

Will I be able to walk without a brace?The purpose of the procedure is to try to improve function of the ankle so the a patient have the right to walk without a brace. However, with severe nerve injury it is not always possible to guarantee that a patient will certainly be brace-free all the time.

Can foot drop surgical procedure be carry out if I have actually no working muscles at all?The foot fall tendon deliver surgery just works if several of the muscles roughly the ankle room still working.

Is over there a "best time" to have the procedure after ~ a foot autumn occurs? Is sooner better than later?Nerve injuries deserve to improve an extremely slowly over time. In ~ the initial time the injury, it is feasible that end months to a year, the foot drop will certainly actually improve and also strength will certainly return. By about one year, if no role has returned, a foot autumn procedure is reasonable come consider.

For a long-standing foot fall (that is, the injury happened numerous years ago) a foot drop procedure can still occupational if the other muscles approximately the ankle are still working. Therefore no matter how long earlier it happened, the is reasonable to look for the opinion of a foot and also ankle orthopaedic surgeon to view if you space a candidate because that this procedure.

Will I require physical therapy?It is advantageous to have actually formal physical treatment to aid retrain the muscle for its brand-new function. Therapy proceeds until progress is made in both strength and also motion and you space able to change out that the boot or brace.

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Original write-up by Sandra Klein, MDContributors/Reviewers: Patrick Maloney, MD; Selene Parekh, MD

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of, consisting of text, images, and graphics, is because that informational functions only. The content is no intended to instead of for skilled medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If girlfriend need clinical advice, use the "Find a Surgeon" search to situate a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon in her area.