Extensor Tendon Repair in Honduras- Part 3

We created the best sterile field that we could and numbed up the laceration with as much lidocaine with epi as was safe to administer.  We had run the hand under running water to disrupt the clot, and then irrigated with sterile saline.

The distal tendons popped into view easily by simply extending all of his fingers flat against the table. They popped out like little white worms and just sat there.  That was easy.  The hard part was findign the proximal ends.  I gently dissected the tissue back towards his wrist, grasping the overlying skin & fat in forceps then cutting the skin with a scalpel.

I was shocked when I saw a small whitish object hiding under the retinaculum.  I quickly grasped it with forceps and pulled it out, placed a stich through it and kept it in sight.  I tugged on it and his forearm twitched.  We proceeded to suture the 3rd distal and proximal tendons together.  While it wasn’t the prettiest knot, it was functional, and what’s even more important, his finger worked again!

THen I set off to find the 4th & 5th tendons.  I had luck in only finding the smallest proximal tendon and I’m assuming it was the 5th.  So I placed sutures through both the 4th & 5th distal tendons and sewed them to the 5th distal tendon.

In the end, I had a pretty three sided laceration…one side formed by the machete, and the other two formed by me looking for the proximal tendons.  I pulled the two sides up and placed a red rubber catheter drain in the lac, and we created an ulnar gutter splint for him.

We fed both he and his brother dinner (tortillas, rice & beans) and the two set off towards home.  We offered them a place to stay for the night, but they insisted on walking back home, 5 hours, in the dark.

The boy came back to the clinic 5 days later, after we were gone, to see the nurse.  We received an email from her saying that the wound looked good, non-infected, and she removed the drain.

Hopefully in 6 months he’ll come back to the clinic to show us how well his fingers are working.  It wasn’t the best tendon repair, but it was the best one he could get at the time.

Everytime I go there, I learn more, come back & study more and am better prepared.  I can’t wait for my next machete wound in Hondura!

  9 comments for “Extensor Tendon Repair in Honduras- Part 3

  1. May 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Great stuff, Doc — sounds like you really made a difference in that kid’s life. Way to go!

  2. May 3, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    What an awesome experience! I am hoping to gain some international experience.

  3. May 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I think you’d enjoy this video, you can skip to the one minute mark. What an amazing story and experience for you.


  4. May 5, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    re: “How did you find my blog anyway?” I’ve been following you for years, Doc — not sure where I found the original link, maybe Grunt Doc? I’m a medical groupie, and your posts are some of the best ones out there.

    I’m guessing you have a substantial non-medical following — you should post a poll on that and quantify it

  5. ndenunz
    May 5, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Good for you to be in the right place at the right time for that young man and taking the time to be prepared.

    Thank you for sharing the story and thank you for sharing your God-given talents with others.

  6. Doc Shazam
    May 5, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Danimal, Thanks for the props. I really appreciate the following, and plan to continue blogging for a long time!

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