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Preoperative Patient Care
Operative Techniques

Preoperative Plan


Execute a surgical walkthrough

  • describe steps of the procedure to the attending prior to the start of the case
  • describe potential complications and steps to avoid them

Room Preparation


Surgical instrumentation

  • Army-Navy or Sofield retractors
  • a tonsil clamp (or similar, long clamp) to bring the semitendinosus into the anterior incision.


Room setup and equipment

  • standard OR table
  • radiolucent table is needed if bone surgery is being done as part of SEMLS


Patient positioning

  • supine

Skin Incision and superficial dissection


Make the longitudinal anterior incision

  • make a 4 to 5 cm longitudinal incision over the distal anterior thigh
  • the distal extent of the incision should at the proximal tip of the patella


Dissect down to expose the quadriceps tendon.

  • dissecting scissors and/or electrocautery are used to expose the quadriceps tendon
  • the medial and lateral borders of the tendon are exposed


Make the longitudinal posterior incision

  • make a 4-5 cm longitudinal incision in the distal third of the posterior thigh
  • identify the semitendinosus and incise the overlying fascia to expose the musculotendinous junction

Deep Dissection



Develop plane between the rectus femoris and vastus intermedius tendons

  • it is easiest to separate the rectus from the remainder of the quadriceps tendon proximally, usually 4-5 cm proximal to the patella
  • incise longitudinally for a length of 1-2 cm deep along the medial (or lateral) border of the quadriceps tendon 4 to 5 cm proximal to the patella
  • find the plane between the rectus femoris and the vastus intermedius
  • develop the interval with a freer elevator and/or manual dissection with a finger
  • The plane between the rectus and the vastus intermedius separates easily with blunt dissection.


Dissect and mobilize the rectus

  • use a freer elevator to penetrate the extensor mechanism immediately adjacent to the lateral border of the rectus femoris
  • use blunt dissection to free the lateral border of the rectus
  • the rectus should be separated from the vastus intermedius as distally as possible (to ~ 1 cm proximal to the patella) using blunt dissection
  • place a 2-0 nonabsorbable whipstitch in the rectus stump
  • Dissection should proceed from proximal to distal to ensure staying in the correct plane.

Transection of the Rectus and the Semitendinosus



Transect the rectus

  • transect the rectus 1 cm proximal to the patella while leaving the vastus intermedius below it intact
  • free the tendon from all underlying attachments after placement of a whip stitch using a size 2-0 nonabsorbable braided suture
  • pull the tendon distally and free the tendon from any soft tissue attachments proximally both medially and laterally.
  • after these soft tissue attachments are released, the rectus should have an excursion of at least 1.5 to 2 cm when manual traction is applied
  • To avoid entering the knee joint, make sure that the rectus tendon is easily visualized and separate from underlying tissue.


Transect the semitendinosus

  • place a right-angle retractor around the semitendinosus and transect the tendon proximal to the musculotendinous junction
  • place a non-absorbable 2-0 whipstitch in the tendon stump and free the tendon distally

Rectus Transfer



Identify and incise the intermuscular septum

  • use small rakes to retract the medial skin flap
  • dissection is deep to the fascia overlying the vastus medialis
  • retract the vastus medialis
  • identify and incise the intermuscular septum using cautery
  • make a large 3-4 cm window in the septum to keep the rectus transfer from becoming tethered.
  • the semitendinosus tendon stump is brought into the anterior compartment through this window
  • this is facilitated by use of a tonsil (or similar) clamp to grab the whip stitch in the semitendinosus stump
  • Right angle retractors (such as Sofield retractors) can facilitate blunt dissection of the vastus medialis off the septum.


Complete the transfer

  • complete the transfer under some tension, while still allowing full knee extension

Wound Closure


Deep closure

  • simple, interrupted 2-0 absorbable sutures are used in the subcutaneous tissue


Superficial closure

  • a running 3-0 nondyed absorbable monoftilament suture is used on the skin
  • a longer-lasting monofilament (e.g. PDS) is used for the anterior incision to minimize the risks of dehiscence and spreading of the scar
Postoperative Patient Care
Private Note

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