Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tenotomy (heel cord release surgery): What to expect

Eli had his Tenotomy last January however, with Eli being sick the last two weeks he's been unable (and a little unwilling) to wear his braces as much as he is supposed to.  Which means we've been thinking a lot about his Tenotomy.  As we have mentioned before, Eli has responded really well to the surgery. His feet look amazing but surgery is not something we really want to repeat :)

Eli went through 10 sets of casts prior to surgery. At the time we were given two options for surgery. We could do the Tenotomy in the office with local anesthetic or we could go to the hospital and have Eli asleep for the surgery. After doing some research and talking to the nurses we decided to go to the hospital and have the surgery done. We didn't want Eli to experience any more pain & stress than necessary.

The night before the surgery we were told that Eli couldn't eat past 2 am. We debated back and forth on whether we would wake him up and feed him in the middle of the night or take our chances and hope he slept through until we left for the hospital. After doing a quick survey of our Facebook friends Eric and I decided that we would wake him up and feed him in an attempt to tide him over until after surgery.

The morning of surgery came and we delicately tried to slip Eli into his car seat without waking him up. Who were we kidding?! Eli is the lightest sleeper known to man. Instead we were greeted with this adorable smile :) He was already to go!

Hi Mom! I'm ready for my new feet!
Once we got down to Children's and got checked in, it felt like a million years before they took us back to our room for Eli to be prepped. But again, Eli was a champ and may have been more relaxed that we were in the waiting room. I guess I would be too if I got to snuggle on Daddy's lap ;)

Once we got back to our room, Eli started to get a little fussy and I couldn't blame him! At that point it had nearly been two hours since we woke him up! Of course Eli wasn't the only one who was hungry, Mommy and Daddy were hungry too!

The day was saved thanks to one of our awesome nursing friends who gave us a great tip! They said to dip Eli's pacifier into Karo corn syrup before we went to the hospital. If Eli started to get fussy from hunger, give it to him. The sugar in the syrup gives babies pain relief and helps with hunger pains. It worked like a charm!

That pacifier knocked me out! Notice how his feet don't go flat and point down.
Rockin' my pink (or salmon according to my hubby) hospital gown. But we all know, real men wear pink ;)

Once we met with the doctor, anesthesiologist, and nurses one last time, it was time for Eli to be taken back to surgery. Children's was so wonderful and actually let us carry Eli back to surgery and handed me a box of tissues on the way... hahaha they must get a lot of crying Mom's and I was no exception!

Eli's surgery was very quick however we were in the waiting room for about 2 hours before they called us back to see Eli. The doctors explained that they like to make sure the babies are stable and starting to wake up before they bring families back.

All snuggled up on Mommy
Right after I handed Eli off to Daddy, Eli threw up all over everything, including Daddy! (It wouldn't be the last time he did that either!)  Eli did so well post surgery that we were discharged later that afternoon and didn't have to stay overnight in the hospital. Shew!

Look at my new flat feet!
When we got home we expected Eli to be fussy but he wasn't nearly as fussy as he had been after his previous castings which surprised us!  What we didn't expect (and sort of freaked out over!) was the blood that seeped through the heel of his cast. I immediately called the surgeon to ask if this was "normal". The nurses assured me it was normal and advised us to draw a circle with a Sharpie around the blood spot. If it expanded past that circle over the next few hours/days to give them a call. Of course we were worried for nothing. Not a thing changed on his casts :)

The whole experience was probably harder on Mom and Dad than it was on Eli.  He responded really well to the whole thing, and it showed us just how patient and enduring he could be.

So for all those parents about to take their child to have a Tenotomy, just know that it is survivable.  That your baby will respond (hopefully as well as Eli).  And that it's all worth it. 

But we definitely don't ever want to go through it again.


  1. i've been following your blog for a while now, ever since we got the news our daughter would be born with cf when i was 25 wks pregnant. we are on cast #2 already (she's 3 wks old) and i've appreciated all of your helpful and informative posts. we will have this surgery soon enough, so it's nice to see a real story of what we could expect. glad your little guy is doing well!

  2. Thanks for sharing part of your story with us. I don't think I'll ever forget what it was like to take Eli to the hospital for his first set of casts. But as hard as it is, you'll be amazed at just how "fast" it goes. Looking back I can't even believe Eli was ever that small. :)

  3. I'm so glad I found your blog. My son, Max, is five months old and has club feet. We chose the physical therapy method and have been working on his feet since he was four days old. His progress recently plateaued and we were told yesterday he will need to have the cord release surgery. I was devastated. Thank you for sharing your story. It has calmed my nerves and reminded me that we are not alone on this journey.

    1. Hi Natalie,

      I am so sorry to hear your sweet Max will have to go through surgery :( It is never easy sending your baby off to surgery. Please let us know how it goes.

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