Extensor Mechanism Repair

Nicholas K. Sablan, M.D.

Post Operative Instructions after Extensor Mechanism Repair (Patella or Quad tendon repair, Patella fracture)

Helpful Hints & Important Precautions for Patients



  • You may resume clear liquids and light foods after surgery (jello, soup, etc.)
  • Progress to your normal diet as tolerated as long as you are not nauseated.



  • Before surgery you will likely receive a nerve block that will last about 8 to 12 hours, and in addition during surgery I will often inject a numbing medicine like novocaine that will give some pain relief for several hours after surgery. It is important to begin taking your pain pills before this medicine wears off.
  • This first medication I use is Percocet which is a strong narcotic pain medication. It will begin to work within 15 minutes after taking it with a maximal effect in one to two hours. Normally, Percocet is taken 1 pill every 6 hours but if the pain is severe, it can be used 2 pills every 4 hours.
  • Common side effects are nausea, constipation, itching, and drowsiness.
  • The best way to prevent nausea is to take the medicine with a little food, start with just one pill, and be patient while the medicine begins to work. Usually, after the first few doses the nausea will go away. I also prescribe an anti-nausea medication called Zofran (Odansetron) to be taken if you have persistent nausea after surgery.
  • You will also be given a prescription for Naprosyn which is a strong anti-inflammatory medication.  Take this twice a day with food in addition to the Percocet. Both medications with work synergistically in pain relief.
  • I strongly recommend you take an over-the-counter stool softener starting the day of surgery such as Colace and Miralax and eating a homeopathic diet heavy in high fiber fruits such as prunes to avoid constipation.
  • Take Benadryl one half hour before your narcotic if you experience itching.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking Percocet or other narcotics.
  • Unless otherwise directed, you should take 325 mg Enteric coated Aspirin once a day for two weeks to help prevent blood clot formation. 
  • Transition to Tylenol as your pain subsides, but pay attention to the dosage as Percocet has 325 mg of Tylenol in each pill.  Patients with normal liver function should not consume more than 4000 mg of Tylenol per day.
  • All non-narcotic medications will be called in to your pharmacy prior to surgery.


Bandages & Sling:

  • Your post-operative dressing has two layers you need to understand in order to properly care for your surgery site. Your incisions were closed with absorbable stitches that are covered with small white tapes called Steri-Strips. Your Steri-Strips should be left in place until I see you at your first post-operative date.
        • The second layer is a large white fluffy dressing and ABD pad that is loosely held in place with tape and the overlying compression stocking.
        • Unless directed otherwise, keep your dressing clean and dry until your first follow-up visit.
        • If your dressing becomes saturated with blood, you can remove the top ABD pad and fluffy dressing and re-apply a new ABD pad after cleaning with alcohol.


        • Washing & Bathing:
          • You should be careful to keep the wound clean and dry until your first post-op visit.


Ice & Activity:

  • One important goal following surgery is to minimize swelling around your surgery site. The best way to achieve this is with the frequent application of ice. This is most important the first 48 hours following surgery. The ice pack should be large (like a big zip-lock bag or bag of peas) and held firmly on the area of your surgery. Apply for 15 minutes every hour while awake if possible.
  • Sometimes Dr. Sablan will prescribe a cold compression unit.  That can be used around the clock under the brace.
  • Crutches will be given to you before surgery if you do not have them already.  Use the crutches at all time before the first visit if you are up walking.
  • You will have a brace locked in full extension (straight out).  Do not change the hinge settings until directed by Dr. Sablan.  Keep the brace on at all times except while showering, icing your knee, during towel roll exercises, or during range of motion exercises.
  • You may put partial weight (20 pounds) on the operated leg unless directed.
  • Do not place pillows under the operated knee as this can lead to stiffness.
  • You may return to sedentary work only or school in 7 days after surgery if your pain is tolerable.
  • Avoid long distance traveling in cars or by airplane during the first week after surgery to avoid increasing your risk of developing blood clots.



  • Place a towel roll under you ankle and tighten your thigh muscles to get your knee to straighten out.  This is very important and should be done at least four times a day for twenty minutes if tolerated.  This is a great time to also ice your knee.
  • Move your ankle back and forth many times during the day to help your circulation.


Physical Therapy

  • The goal of physical therapy is to first assess how your body responded to the surgical procedure.  They help you feel comfortable with your surgery and make sure you aren't afraid to start doing things. Your therapist will start range of motion and strength exercises on your first visit. You may start physical therapy after your first post-operative visit.


Follow up appointment:

  • We try to give all of our patients a follow-up office visit at the same time we schedule your surgery.
  • Typically I want to see my patients in the office 5 to 10 days after surgery.



What to watch out for:

Pain that is increasing every hour in spite of the pain medication

Drainage from the wound more than 2 days after surgery

Increasing redness around the surgical site

Pain or swelling around your surgery

Fever greater than 101.5 degrees.

Unable to keep food or water down for more than one day.