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There is no agreement on the ideal type of surgical management for Achilles tendon rupture. The present randomized prospective study was performed to compare outcome data of open and percutaneous repair in the treatment of Achilles tendon rupture. Forty consecutive patients with acute rupture of Achilles tendon were recruited. Patients were randomized to receive open (group A) or percutaneous repair with Tenolig (group B). All patients followed the same rehabilitation protocol except for slight differences in the duration of immobilization. Follow-up included objective evaluation (at 4 and 12 months), subjective evaluation using the SF-12 questionnaire (at 24 months), and bilateral ultrasound scanning and isokinetic testing (at 12 months). The differences in the parameters evaluated clinically were not significant except for ankle circumference, which was significantly greater in group B. There were two minor complications in the open repair group and one case of failed repair in the percutaneous group. SF-12 questionnaire, ultrasound and isokinetic test data did not show significant differences between the groups. The present study demonstrates that the open and the percutaneous technique are both safe and effective in repairing the ruptured Achilles tendon and that both afford the same degree of restoration of clinical, ultrasound and isokinetic patterns. Medium-term results were substantially comparable. Percutaneous repair is performed on a day-surgery basis, it reduces cutaneous complications and operation times, and enables faster recovery, enhancing overall patient compliance. To us, these characteristics make it preferable to open repair in managing subcutaneous ruptures of Achilles tendon in non-professional sports practicing adults.
Background: Surgical repair of acute Achilles tendon ruptures is considered superior to nonoperative treatment, but complications other than rerupture range up to 34%. Nonoperative treatment by functional bracing seems a promising alternative.
Hypothesis: Nonoperative treatment of acute Achilles tendon rupture with functional bracing reduces the number of complications compared with surgical treatment with a minimally invasive technique.
Study Design: Randomized controlled clinical trial; Level of evidence, 2.
Method: Using concealed random allocation, 83 patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture were assigned to nonoperative treatment by functional bracing or minimally invasive surgical treatment followed by tape bandage. Patients were allowed full weightbearing, and follow-up was 1 year.
Results: Complications risk other than rerupture by intention-to-treat basis was 9 in 42 patients (21%) for surgical treatment and 15 in 41 patients (36%) for nonoperative treatment (risk ratio, 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.29-1.19). Reruptures risk was 5 in 41 patients after nonoperative treatment and 3 in 42 patients for surgical treatment (risk ratio, 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-2.29). The mean time to work was 59 days (SD, 82) after surgical treatment and 108 days (SD, 115) after nonoperative treatment (difference, 49 days; 95% confidence interval, 4-94; P < .05). The difference between treatments for return to sports (risk ratio, 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-1.29), pain, and treatment satisfaction did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusion: There appears to be a clinically important difference in the risk of complications between minimally invasive surgical treatment and nonoperative treatment for acute Achilles tendon ruptures, but this was not statistically significant.
BACKGROUND: The optimal surgical management of Achilles tendon ruptures remains a topic of active debate. Recently, many authors have preferred the limited open method because it afforded sufficient visualization to ensure anatomic apposition of disrupted tendon fibers, minimized local blood supply disturbances, guaranteed free tendon movement, and produced excellent cosmesis. We report our initial experience with this technique and review the literature.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The outcomes of 30 consecutive patients that underwent limited open repair for Achilles tendon rupture using Achillon(R) (Newdeal SA, Lyon, France) from June 2003 to May 2006 were retrospectively reviewed. There were 20 men and 10 women, of average age 38.6 years, and the average followup period was 18.5 months. Twenty of the injuries were sports-related, eight were caused by a fall, and two by a laceration. The clinical results were assessed using patient satisfaction, the ankle-hindfoot scale of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), and the occurrence of complications.
RESULTS: At last followup, sixteen patients were very satisfied, 11 were satisfied, and the remaining three were dissatisfied. Mean patient AOFAS score was 93.0 points. Surgical complications noted were re-rupture in two cases, deep infection in one, and sural nerve injury in one. All patients except the three patients with a re-rupture or infection, returned to work 2 months postoperatively and resumed light exercise at 3 months, and previous sporting activities by 6 months.
CONCLUSION: The described limited open repair technique for Achilles tendon ruptures provided excellent cosmetic results, satisfactory functional results, and a high level of patient satisfaction.
Background: The optimal rehabilitation protocol after surgical repair of an Achilles tendon rupture has not been well defined. The objective of this randomized study was to compare the effect of early weight-bearing with that of non-weight-bearing on early postoperative recovery following repair of an acutely ruptured Achilles tendon.
Methods: Between October 2003 and May 2006, 110 patients with a surgically repaired Achilles tendon rupture were enrolled from one of two major trauma-care tertiary hospitals. All patients were non-weight-bearing for the first two weeks postoperatively. At the two-week postoperative visit, patients were randomized to either weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing for an additional four weeks. Compliance was measured with a pressure sensor in the fixed-hinge ankle-foot orthosis given to each patient. Follow-up assessments were performed at six weeks, three months, and six months postoperatively. The primary outcome was health-related quality of life assessed with use of the RAND 36-Item Health Survey (RAND-36). Secondary outcomes were activity level, calf strength, ankle range of motion, return to sports and work, and complications.
Results: Ninety-eight patients (89%) completed the six-month follow-up. At six weeks, the weight-bearing group had significantly better scores than the non-weight-bearing group in the RAND-36 domains of physical functioning, social functioning, role-emotional, and vitality scores (p < 0.05). Patients in the weight-bearing group also reported fewer limitations of daily activities at six weeks postoperatively (p < 0.001). At six months, no significant differences between the groups were seen in any outcome, although both groups had poor endurance of the calf musculature. No rerupture occurred in either group.
Conclusions: Early weight-bearing after surgical repair of an acute Achilles tendon rupture improves health-related quality of life in the early postoperative period and has no detrimental effect on recovery.
Open minimally invasive Achilles tendon repair with early rehabilitation: Functional results of 25 consecutive patients.
Ozkaya U, Parmaksizoglu AS, Kabukcuoglu Y, Sokucu S, Basilgan S. Injury. 2009 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]
BACKGROUND: Various treatment techniques have been described for the treatment of acute Achilles tendon rupture. However, there is no consensus among orthopaedic surgeons regarding the surgical technique and the postoperative rehabilitation program. Mid-term functional outcome results of the patients who had undergone open minimally invasive repair of fresh Achilles tendon ruptures followed by an early rehabilitation programme were evaluated.
METHODS: Twenty-five consecutive patients who underwent open minimally invasive repair of Achiles tendon ruptures during January 2004-October 2005 were independently reviewed at an average follow-up of 34 months (range 24-45 months). The mean age of the patients was 41 (35-47). A functional rehabilitation protocol based on early range of motion exercises was used after surgery. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score was used to evaluate the outcomes of the patients. Ankle range of motion; thigh, calf and ankle circumferences of the injured leg and the contralateral side, return to work and sports activities time were evaluated.
RESULTS: One patient had a partial rerupture and one had superficial wound infection. The mean American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score was 93 (80-100). Patients returned to work at 3 weeks (range 1-5 weeks) and to preinjury sportive activities at 3 months (range 2-4 months). Ankle ROM and circumference measurements did not reveal a significant difference between the two sides.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that open minimally invasive Achilles tendon repair and an early rehabilitation programme provides satisfactory results with early return to previous functional status with low complication rates.
No influence of physiotherapy on outcome after open repair of achilles tendon ruptures?
Ateschrang A, Gratzer C, Rolauffs B, Glatzle J, Weise K, Braun A. Zentralbl Chir. 2008 Dec;133(6):602-7.
AIM: Many studies have been performed to analyse the influence of surgical techniques and the postoperative aftercare after Achilles tendon ruptures on the outcome. However, there is no study investigating the influence of physiotherapy on outcome after surgical repair and standardised early functional rehabilitation of Achilles tendon rupture, so that this was the objective of the present study.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: In this retrospective study, 104 patients with Achilles tendon ruptures, all treated by open repair followed by a standardised early rehabilitation, were evaluated by the Thermann score. The average age was 42 years. We could identify 3 patient groups. Group I (n=23) did not receive any physiotherapy. Group II (n=41) received physiotherapy for 3-6 weeks, and group III (n=40) received more than 6 weeks of physiotherapy. Physiotherapy consisted of 3 units per week. Each unit lasted for 30 min. All groups were compared statistically via variance analysis.
RESULTS: Group I scored on average 88.8 points, group II 88.6 and group III 87.0 points. There were no statistically significant differences between the three groups (p=0.50). The age of patients had also no relevant influence on the outcome (p=0.48).
CONCLUSIONS: Physiotherapy and age of the patients involved were not found to influence the outcome after open augmented repair of Achilles tendon ruptures followed by a standardised early rehabilitation. These results should be confirmed by a prospective randomised trial. Also elderly patients participating in demanding sport activities should receive a surgical repair
Chronic Achilles tendon ruptures are often challenging to repair because of muscle and tendon atrophy, retraction, and short distal stumps. We undertook a retrospective investigation of 14 patients who were treated with the Ligament Advanced Reinforcement System (LARS) ligament for the treatment of chronic, neglected rupture of the Achilles tendon. The patients pursued a course of early functional rehabilitation, and postoperative outcome scores were obtained at 3, 6, and 12 months, based on the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) ankle and hindfoot scoring system, and the Tegner Activity score. The minimum duration of follow-up was 36 months. After a minimum of 28 months postoperative, and up to 41 months postoperative, there was no observed incidence of rerupture or recurrent pain. The mean time to return to full activity was 18.3 +/- 2.7 weeks, and >90% of the patients scored > or =80 points on the AOFAS scoring scale. Specifically, the mean AOFAS score increased from 48.64 +/- 12.67 to 85.86 +/- 6.6 after the operation, and this difference was statistically significant (P = .001). Furthermore, the Tegner activity scale score improved from 2.58 +/- 0.31 to 1.73 +/- 0.29 after the operation, and this difference was also statistically significant (P = .001). The results of this retrospective clinical study suggest that augmentation with the LARS ligament offers a satisfactory reconstructive option for the neglected Achilles tendon rupture
Press Release: In Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery May Not Be Necessary
The two ends of a ruptured Achilles tendon are often stitched together before the leg is put in plaster, in order to reduce the risk of the tendon rupturing again. However, a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, now suggests that surgery may be unnecessary. Patients who do not undergo surgery have just as good a chance of recovery.
The Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the heel, is the body's strongest tendon. The tendon may rupture on sudden tensing of the muscle, something that affects middle-aged men in particular, typically when playing badminton or tennis.
"When the Achilles tendon ruptures, it feels like a sudden, violent and intensely painful snap in the calf or tendon above the heel. It is an injury that has become increasingly common in recent years, probably because exercise is increasingly popular. But whether or not one should operate has been the subject of debate for quite some time," says orthopaedic surgeon Katarina Nilsson Helander, the author of the thesis.
When the Achilles tendon has ruptured, the foot is put in plaster with the toes pointing downwards, so that the torn ends of the tendon come into contact and join together as they heal. The torn ends of the tendon are often stitched together before the foot is put in plaster, to make sure they stay in place. In recent times, a removable orthosis has begun to replace plaster casts, making it possible for the patient to start to move the foot sooner. Other studies have shown that early motion stimulates healing.
Surgery increases the risk of infections and sores but is often carried out anyway, as studies have shown that the operation reduces the risk of the tendon rupturing again.
One hundred patients were randomly assigned to surgery with early mobilisation or to early mobilisation alone with the removable orthosis and without prior surgery. In every other respect, all the patients in the study had the same treatment. The thesis shows that there is no difference in the re-rupture rate. A year after the injury, there was no difference in the patients' own impression of symptoms and function, but irrespective of which treatment the patient received, the function tests showed that there remained a substantial difference between the healthy and the injured foot.
"I have concluded that not everybody needs to have surgery, but it is important that those who suffer an Achilles tendon rupture discuss the treatment options with their orthopaedic surgeon," says Katarina Nilsson Helander.
Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Medical Science at the Department of Orthopaedics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy
Title of thesis: Acute Achilles tendon rupture; Evaluation of Treatment and Complications
Elin Lindstrom Claessen
University of Gothenburg
Repair of Chronic Rupture of the Achilles Tendon Using 2 Intratendinous Flaps From the Proximal Gastrocnemius-Soleus Complex
Mohamed Taha El Shewy, Hassan Magdy El Barbary, Hisham Abdel-Ghani American Journal of Sports Medicine (in press)
Background: Chronic rupture of the Achilles tendon is a surgical challenge, owing to the presence of a gap between the retracted ends, which renders direct repair almost impossible.
Purpose: In this study, 2 intratendinous distally based flaps fashioned from the proximal gastrocnemius-soleus complex are used to bridge the gap between the retracted edges of the ruptured Achilles tendon. The flaps are placed in the same line of pull of the ruptured tendon, in an effort to make the graft mimic the original biomechanics as much as possible.
Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Eleven patients (9 male and 2 female) with neglected ruptures of the Achilles tendon with retracted ends were included in this study. Two flaps fashioned from the proximal gastrocnemius-soleus complex were rotated over themselves, passed through the proximal stump, and then securely inserted into a previously prepared bed in the distal stump.
Results: The patients were followed up for a period of 6 to 9 years. At the final follow-up, all patients were able to return to their preinjury level of activity within a period of 6 to 9 months. The mean preoperative American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society score was 42.27, whereas it was 98.91 at the final follow-up, with a range of 88 (in 1 patient) to 100 points (in 10 patients). All 11 patients showed statistically significant improvement according to the Holz rating system.
Conclusion: This technique allows for a bridging of the defect present in chronic ruptures of Achilles tendons, with a minimum of complications and a good final outcome.
The purpose of this study was to report the management and outcome of 11 patients presenting with chronic Achilles tendon (AT) rupture treated by a modified flexor hallucis longus (FHL) transfer. Seven patients presented with a neglected AT rupture, one with a chronic AT rupture associated with Achilles tendinosis and three with an AT re-rupture. AT defect after fibrosis debridement averaged 7.4 cm. In addition to FHL transfer, we performed an augmentation using the two remaining fibrous scar stumps of the ruptured AT. Functional assessment was performed using the AOFAS score and isokinetic evaluation was performed to assess ankle plantarflexion torque deficit. Follow-up averaged 79 months. Functional outcome was excellent with a significant improvement of the AOFAS score at latest follow-up. No re-rupture nor major complication, particularly of wound healing, was observed. All patients presented with a loss of active range of motion of the hallux interphalangeal joint without functional weakness during athletic or daily life activities. Isokinetic testing at 30 degrees/second and 120 degrees/second revealed a significant average decrease of 28 +/- 11% and 36 +/- 4.1%, respectively, in plantarflexion peak torque. Although strength deficit persisted at latest follow-up, functional improvement was significant without morbidity due to FHL harvesting. For patients with chronic AT rupture with a rupture gap of at least 5 cm, surgical repair using FHL transfer with fibrous AT stump reinforcement achieved excellent outcomes.
Neglected rupture of Achilles tendon is an infrequent but debilitating injury. Several surgical methods of treatment have been described to repair neglected Achilles tendon rupture.
Material and methods
In our study we reviewed 20 patients (18 male and 2 female). We describe a new surgical technique using percutaneous repair of the neglected Achilles tendon ruptures. It consists of 10 micro-incisions, five lateral and five medial to the posterior aspect of the Achilles tendon, the suture is performed using an absorbable number 1 Vicryl (Ethicon, Edinburgh UK) inserted percutaneously in a figure of eight fashion.
The advantages of this procedure are a short time immobilization, an early weight bearing and a return to complete ankle range of motion. The mean AOFAS score was 99.0, no re-ruptures or sural nerve damage were observed. In all the treated patients the results obtained were rated from good to excellent.
We would like to encourage this technique as being fast, inexpensive and very satisfactory both to the patient and to the surgeon.
To study the feasibility of applying Krackow locking stitches in the endoscopic-assisted repair of acute Achilles tendon rupture and the possible complications encountered.
Type of study
Twelve Achilles tendons in six cadavers were cut at 6 cm from its insertion and endoscopic-assisted repair of Achilles tendon was performed. These legs were then cut open in midline to study (i) the locking stitches formed and (ii) the relation of the sural nerve to the locking stitches.
With endoscopic-assisted technique, Krackow-type locking stitches can be formed in eight legs. In four legs, the stitches fell into the ruptured gap and lie deep to the tendon. The tendon rupture end was grasped by the suture rather than forming a Krackow-type locking stitch when the suture was tightened. There was no sural nerve laceration noted. However, in two legs, the sural nerves were found trapped in the sutures at around the proximal portal.
Krackow locking stitches can be formed by the minimally invasive technique. However, there are risks of stitches falling into the ruptured gap and lie deep to the tendon and risk of sural nerve entrapment at the proximal medial portal. The original technique is not suitable for clinical application. Modification of the technique by grasping the tendon end with Allis tissue forceps before passing the suture may prevent the suture from falling into the ruptured tendon gap.
The purpose of this study is to document the epidemiology of Achilles tendon ruptures in the National Football League (NFL) and to quantify the impact of these injuries on player performance. A retrospective review of several online NFL player registries identified 31 Achilles tendon ruptures in NFL players between 1997 and 2002. Nineteen percent of injuries occurred during preseason play, while another 18% occurred during the first month of the official season. There was a postinjury reduction of 88%, 83%, and 78% in power ratings for wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends, respectively, over a 3-year period. There was a 95%, 87%, and 64% postinjury reduction in power ratings for linebackers, cornerbacks, and defensive tackles over a 3-year period. On average, players experienced a greater than 50% reduction in their power ratings following such an injury. Thirty-two percent (n = 10) of NFL players who sustained an Achilles tendon rupture did not return to play in the NFL.
Conservative management of acute Achilles tendon ruptures in a plantarflexed short leg cast or functional brace is a viable alternative to surgery. The ideal plantarflexion angle to allow the free ends of the tendon to oppose one another has not been clearly defined. The purpose of this cadaveric study was to define a plantarflexion angle where the free Achilles tendon ends reliably oppose one another. Ten cadaveric legs amputated at the distal femur were obtained. A laceration of the Achilles tendon was made 4 cm above the calcaneal insertion. A joint-spanning external fixator was placed across the knee. With differing degrees of knee flexion (0, 45, and 90 degrees), the diastasis between the free ends of the Achilles tendon was measured as the ankle was moved from 20 degrees of dorsiflexion to 30 degrees of plantarflexion (-20, -10, neutral, 10, 20, and 30 degrees). Regardless of knee flexion angle, the ankle plantarflexion angle where the free ends of the Achilles tendon opposed one another was 28.0 (95% confidence interval: 25.0-33.6) degrees. The ideal ankle angle in which to immobilize patients appears tightly clustered around 28 degrees of plantarflexion.
What they are telling you is that the achilles or more importantly is that the gastroc is not a plantar flexor, it is a knee extensor, ie the synergist of the hamstrings and quads, nothing else.
BACKGROUND: There is abundant literature on the treatment of Achilles tendon rupture; however data on sports and recreational activities after this injury is scarce.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: 71 patients were assessed in a prospective cross-sectional study after an average of 3 years after Achilles tendon rupture. 44 patients were treated non-operatively, using a functional algorithm, and 23 patients were treated operatively. Outcome parameters were the AOFAS-Score and the SF-36 Score. The strength of plantar-flexion was measured using the Isomed 2000 system, the structural integrity of the tendon was assessed sonografically.
RESULTS: Patients treated operatively had a higher complication rate than patients treated non-operatively (p = 0.05). Re-rupture rate was identically in both groups. No difference was noted between the two groups for the AOFAS score (92 vs. 90). Moreover the SF-36 score did not show any significant difference between the groups. However, if compared to the age-adjusted normative population significant lower scores were achieved. A significant reduction in practicing sports was detected, as well as a reduction of plantar flexion of the affected foot (p = 0.04).
CONCLUSION: Except for complication rate no significant difference could be detected between the groups. Thus operative treatment in the recreational athlete should only be considered, if no adaptation of the ends of the tendon is diagnosed during the initial or repeated ultrasound. Regardless of the therapeutic intervention chosen an Achilles tendon rupture leads to marked changes in sports- and recreational activitie
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is common after lower limb injury, but the effect of prophylactic treatment has not been documented in large randomised trials or meta-analyses. As a result, evidence-based recommendations have not been established. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of venous thromboembolism in patients with Achilles tendon rupture. A total of 100 consecutive patients with an acute Achilles tendon rupture were included in a prospective study and randomised to either surgical or non-surgical treatment. At 8 weeks after the initiation of treatment, 95/100 patients were screened for DVT using colour duplex sonography (CDS) with blinded interpretation by two experienced examiners and adjudication in cases of disagreement by a third person. A total of 95 patients (79 male and 16 female) with a median (range) age of 41 (24-63) years were screened for CDS at 8 weeks. Of the 95 patients, 32 had a CDS-verified thrombosis, 5 proximal and 27 distal, whereas 3 had non-fatal pulmonary embolism. Surgical treatment was performed in 49 patients, non-surgical in 46. There were no significant differences in DVT frequency between the two treatment groups. The incidence of asymptomatic and symptomatic deep venous thrombosis is high after Achilles tendon rupture and there is a need to define the possible benefit of thromboprophylaxis.
Chronic Achilles Tendon Rupture Treated with Two Turndown Flaps and Flexor Hallucis Longus Augmentation - Two-year Clinical Outcome.
Tay D, Lin HA, Tan BS, Chong KW, Rikhraj IS. Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2010 Jan;39(1):58-3.
Introduction: Both conservative and operative management have been described in the literature for the management of chronic Achilles tendon ruptures with surgical management generally having more favourable results. In our institution, the favoured reconstructive technique was the use of 2 turndown tendon fl aps fashioned from the proximal Achilles tendon augmented by a teno-myodesis of the fl exor hallucis longus. The purpose of this study was to assess the clinical outcome of all patients who underwent this procedure.
Materials and Methods: From the records, a total of 9 patients underwent the above-mentioned procedure of whom 6 patients had complete data collection sets [including SF-36, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) Ankle-Hindfoot scores, ankle range of motion (ROM), presence of residual symptoms and complications] at 2 years of follow-up.
Results: Our results showed an average AOFAS Ankle-Hindfoot score of 94.2, VAS of 0 in all but 1 patient, and generally high scores (75-96) in all 8 domains of the SF-36 questionnaire. Patient satisfaction was also rated to be high from the surgical procedure.
Conclusion: We submit that the procedure adopted at our institution is able to reproduce satisfactory results with low morbidity in patients with this challenging condition.
We report an audit of 208 patients with a mean age of 39 years (16 to 65) attending the Orthopaedic Assessment Unit at the Wellington Hospital between January 2006 and December 2007 with an injury of the tendo Achillis requiring immobilisation in a cast. Information on assessment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk, prophylactic measures and VTE events for all patients was obtained from the medical records. A VTE risk factor was documented in the records of three (1%) patients. One of the 208 patients received aspirin prophylaxis; none received low molecular weight heparin. In all, 13 patients (6.3%, 95% confidence interval 3.4 to 10.5) developed symptomatic VTE during immobilisation in a cast, including six with a distal deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), four with a proximal DVT, and three with a confirmed pulmonary embolus. This incidence of symptomatic VTE is similar to that reported following elective hip replacement.
We propose that consideration is given to VTE prophylaxis during prolonged immobilisation of the lower limbs in a cast, to ensure that the same level of protection is provided as for patients undergoing elective hip replacement.
BACKGROUND: Functional management of the ruptured Achilles tendon can be effective using orthoses like the removable walker boot (Foam Walker Boot, Air Cast UK Limited, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom). We conducted this study to look at the outcome of our protocol using this orthosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 107 non-operatively managed Achilles tendon ruptures over the last 5 years. Case notes were analyzed for demographics and immediate outcomes. Long term outcomes were assessed by a postal questionnaire using the Achilles Tendon Total Rupture Score (ATRS).
RESULTS: Of the 107 tendons (male:female=71:36, mean age=50 years), 105 tendons (98%) healed with an average discharge time of 22 weeks. Six patients reported major complications and 6 reported minor complications. We received 56 questionnaires with a mean ATRS score of 21. Seventy-seven percent returned to pre-injury level of activity.
CONCLUSION: Functional management of Achilles tendon rupture, under appropriate supervision, provides a viable option for non-operative management.
Press Release: Torn Achilles Tendon? New Guidelines Say Early Motion Can Be Beneficial
Orthopaedic surgeons release treatment guidelines on acute Achilles tendon rupture
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has approved and released an evidence-based clinical practice guideline on “The Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Achilles Tendon Rupture.”
The Achilles tendon is the thick, cord-like structure connecting the heel bone to the muscles along the back of the calf. It is one of the strongest tendons in the body, and a rupture can be quite disabling, said orthopaedic surgeon Christopher Chiodo, MD. According to Dr. Chiodo, Chair of the AAOS work group responsible for this guideline, an acute rupture of the Achilles tendon is an injury commonly treated by orthopaedic surgeons and can include treatment with casts or braces.
“A recommendation of special interest to patients having surgery is that in most cases their ankle should be mobilized and some weight-bearing allowed post-operatively,” stated Dr. Chiodo. "More than one high-quality study has demonstrated that such controlled early motion and weight-bearing is beneficial, especially with regard to return of function.”
“As for orthopaedic surgeons, the Academy work group found no evidence to support the use of biological agents, autograft, or synthetic tissue when surgically repairing Achilles tendon ruptures,” Dr. Chiodo said.
Inconclusive evidence-based research was identified for recommending for or against the following:
* the use of physical therapy following surgery;
* a specific time in which patients can return to the activities of daily living — irrespective of treatment type; or
* a specific time in which patients can return to athletic activity when treated without surgery.
Statistically, Achilles tendon rupture is more common in males in their 30s and 40s. Yet today, more people remain active as they age, so it is very common to see this injury in all age groups.
This final guideline contains 16 recommendations, and includes that operative treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture should be approached more cautiously in the following individuals:
* patients over age 65;
* patients with sedentary lifestyles
* obese individuals;
* those with immuno-compromised status;
* smokers; and
* patients with diabetes, neuropathy, and vascular (circulatory) disorders.
After a thorough analysis of the literature, the work group was unable to recommend for or against the routine use of the following tests to confirm a diagnosis of acute Achilles tendon rupture:
* radiographs (X-rays and similar tests); and
* magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An acute Achilles tendon rupture affects an estimated 5.5 to 9.9 of every 100,000 people in North America each year. However, no universally agreed upon treatment regimen currently exists. The following recommendations highlight the need for further high level research using current techniques.
* Operative treatment is an option for treating patients with Achilles tendon rupture.
* Some studies showed possible advantages to the minimally invasive repair of this tendon, specifically with regard to wound healing, but this needs to be validated by further research.
* Some recent studies demonstrated acceptable outcomes based on function with non-operative management (using braces or casts).
According to Dr. Chiodo, these guidelines are the result of a robust review of the literature, which included screening and reading thousands of citations, abstracts and articles. Ultimately, they selected about 50 papers upon which to base their recommendations.
While he had no surprises in terms of clinical findings during this review, Dr. Chiodo admits to being surprised by the lack of high quality prospective, randomly controlled clinical trials on many topics important to orthopaedic surgeons.
“There is a definite need for large studies utilizing multi-center protocols and databases,” Dr. Chiodo stated. “We also need to establish patient registries that include large volumes of cases, so we can follow these patients and sufficiently evaluate long-term outcome.
“It is also important to mention that decision-making does not end at the time of surgery,” he adds. “Post-operative protocols are important as well.”
Editor’s Note: This AAOS guideline was developed by an AAOS physician volunteer work group and was based upon a systematic review of the current scientific and clinical information on accepted approaches to treatment and/or diagnosis. The entire process included a review panel consisting of internal and external committees, public commentaries and final approval by the AAOS Board of Directors.
Disclaimer: This summary of recommendations is not intended to stand alone. Treatment decisions should be made in light of all circumstances presented by the patient. Treatments and procedures applicable to the individual patient rely on mutual communication between patient, physician, and other healthcare practitioners.
STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study. OBJECTIVES: To describe calf muscle endurance recovery and to explore factors predictive of poor calf muscle endurance recovery 1 year after surgical repair of an Achilles tendon rupture (ATR). BACKGROUND: ATR is a common sports-related injury and is often managed with open surgical repair. After ATR repair most patients return to usual activities 6 months after surgery. However, calf endurance impairment can persist up to 6 years, possibly impacting performance of daily activities and sport. METHODS: A secondary analysis of a 73-patient cohort from a randomized controlled trial assessing the effects of early weight bearing after surgical repair of an ATR was performed. Calf muscle endurance recovery was measured by single-heel raises using a customized counting device at 6 months and 1 year postoperatively. Descriptive statistics were used to outline recovery of calf muscle endurance. Physical and patient-reported outcomes were examined for their association with calf-muscle endurance recovery. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to explore variables associated with recovery of calf endurance 1 year postoperatively. RESULTS: Mean recovery of calf muscle endurance was 76% at 1 year. Multivariate regression analysis showed an association of being female, reporting no resting pain at 3 months, and physical functioning and calf endurance at 6 months, with better recovery of calf endurance at 1 year. CONCLUSIONS: Calf muscle endurance at 1 year remained impaired in a considerable portion of the sample. Pain, gender, and physical functioning are likely important factors in determining recovery of calf muscle endurance
BACKGROUND: The standard surgical exposure for repair of acute tendo Achilles rupture gives favourable results, but such extensive exposure increases the possibility of peritendinous adhesion, wound breakdown and infections which increases morbidity and impairs functional outcome. Open repair also increases post-operative hospital stay and hence encroaches on valuable bed space availability. To evade this mini-open technique was developed which provide anatomic apposition of the tendon ends and minimal damage to epitendon.
METHODS: We describe a retrospective case series of 21 patients who were treated with mini-open technique as a day case, between 2004 and 2007 operated by a single surgeon. They were followed up for a year. Both the Leppilahti score and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society for the Ankle Hind foot Clinical Rating System (AOFAS) were calculated. The patients (8 males and 13 females) had a mean age of 43.4 years. Post-operatively the leg was placed in an air cast boot with 3 heel wedges allowing 30 degrees of plantar flexion. The foot is brought into plantigrade position by 6 weeks with serial removal of heel wedges followed by a rehabilitative training programme.
RESULTS: There was one superficial infection which settled on oral antibiotics, no re-rupture or sural nerve involvement was noted in this series. All patients returned to previous work and sports activities. All patients scored above 90 in the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Hind foot Clinical Rating System and on the Leppilahti Scoring System. Mini-open procedure is an excellent alternative to open exposures reducing the inpatient post-operative stay. All patients were discharged home on the same day of the procedure.
CONCLUSION: Our pilot study has helped us to implement a standardised pathway by which patients have benefitted with improved rehabilitation and return to their pre-injury status
Non-operative treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures is associated with an increased risk of rerupture. We hypothesized that this is due to inferior mechanical properties during an early phase of healing, and performed a randomized trial, using a new method to measure the mechanical properties. Tantalum markers were inserted in the tendon stumps, and tendon strain at different loadings was measured by stereo-radiography (Roentgen stereophotogrammetric analysis) at 3, 7 and 19 weeks and 18 months after injury. Thirty patients were randomized to operative or non-operative treatment. The primary out-come variable was an estimate for the modulus of elasticity at 7 weeks. Strain per force, cross-sectional area and tendon elongation were also measured. The functional outcome variable was the heel-raise index after 18 months. There was no difference in the mean modulus of elasticity or other mechanical or functional variables between operative and non-operative treatments at any time-point, but strain per force at 7 and 19 weeks had a significantly larger variation in the non-operative group. This group, therefore, might contain more outliers with poor healing. The modulus of elasticity at 7 weeks correlated with the heel-raise index after 18 months in both treatment groups (r(2)=0.75; P=0.0001). This correlation is an intriguing finding.
Background: A less-invasive technique to reconstruct chronic Achilles tendon rupture with transfer of the tendon of peroneus brevis is suitable in patients with a tendon gap less than 6 cm.
Purpose: To report the results of a longitudinal study on reconstruction of chronic Achilles tendon rupture using a less-invasive peroneus brevis repair through 2 paramidline incisions.
Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Thirty-two patients underwent surgery for chronic Achilles tendon rupture with a tendon gap during surgery less than 6 cm, occurring between 60 days and 9 months preoperatively. All participants were prospectively followed for 5 to 8 years; final review was performed at 48.4 ± 13.5 months from the operation. Clinical and functional assessment (anthropometric measurements, isometric strength, postoperative Achilles tendon total rupture score) was performed.
Results: All patients were able to walk on tiptoes, and no patient used a heel lift or walked with a visible limp. No patient developed a clinically evident deep vein thrombosis or sustained a rerupture. Five patients were managed nonoperatively after a superficial infection of one of the surgical wounds. At final review, the maximum calf circumference remained significantly decreased in the operated leg (39.2 ± 6.2 cm [side with rupture] vs 40.9 ± 7.0 cm [uninjured side]; P = .04). The operated limb was significantly less strong than the nonoperated one (231.2 ± 132.4 N vs 275.3 ± 150.2 N; P = .033). The Achilles tendon total rupture score at final follow-up was 92.5 ± 14.2.
Conclusion: The management of chronic Achilles tendon tears by a less-invasive peroneus brevis repair is technically demanding but safe. It allows good recovery, even in patients with a chronic rupture of 9 months’ duration. These patients should be warned that they are at risk for postoperative complications and that their ankle plantar flexion strength is likely to be reduced.
Acute Achilles Tendon Rupture: A Randomized, Controlled Study Comparing Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatments Using Validated Outcome Measures
Katarina Nilsson-Helander, Karin Grävare Silbernagel, Roland Thomeé, et al American Journal of Sports Medicine (online first)
Background: There is no consensus regarding the optimal treatment for patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture. Few randomized controlled studies have compared outcomes after surgical or nonsurgical treatment with both groups receiving early mobilization.
Purpose: This study was undertaken to compare outcomes of patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture treated with or without surgery using early mobilization and identical rehabilitation protocols.
Study Design: Randomized, controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: Ninety-seven patients (79 men, 18 women; mean age, 41 years) with acute Achilles tendon rupture were treated and followed for 1 year. The primary end point was rerupturing. Patients were evaluated using the Achilles tendon Total Rupture Score (ATRS), functional tests, and clinical examination at 6 and 12 months after injury.
Results: There were 6 (12%) reruptures in the nonsurgical group and 2 (4%) in the surgical group (P = .377). The mean 6- and 12-month ATRS were 72 and 88 points in the surgical group and 71 and 86 points in the nonsurgical group, respectively. Improvements in ATRS between 6 and 12 months were significant for both groups, with no significant between-group differences. At the 6-month evaluation, the surgical group had better results compared with the nonsurgically treated group in some of the muscle function tests; however, at the 12-month evaluation there were no differences between the 2 groups except for the heel-rise work test in favor of the surgical group. At the 12-month follow-up, the level of function of the injured leg remained significantly lower than that of the uninjured leg in both groups.
Conclusion: The results of this study did not demonstrate any statistically significant difference between surgical and nonsurgical treatment. Furthermore, the study suggests that early mobilization is beneficial for patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture whether they are treated surgically or nonsurgically. The preferred treatment strategy for patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture remains a subject of debate. Although the study met the sample size dictated by the authors’ a priori power calculation, the difference in the rerupture rate might be considered clinically important by some.
BACKGROUND: There is a lack of consensus on the best management of the acute Achilles tendon rupture. Treatment can be broadly classified into surgical (open or percutaneous) and non-surgical (cast immobilisation or functional bracing).
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the relative effects of surgical versus non-surgical treatment, or different surgical interventions, for acute Achilles tendon ruptures in adults.
SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (July 2009), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 3), MEDLINE (1966 to 20th July 2009), EMBASE (1966 to 2009 week 29), CINAHL (1983 to July 2007) and reference lists of articles.
SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised and quasi-randomised trials comparing surgical versus non-surgical treatment or different surgical methods for acute Achilles tendon ruptures in adults.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently selected potentially eligible trials; trials were then assessed for quality using a 10-item scale. Where possible, data were pooled.
MAIN RESULTS: Twelve trials involving 844 participants were included. One trial tested two comparisons.Quality assessment revealed a poor level of methodological rigour in many studies, particularly with regard to concealment of allocation and the lack of assessor blinding.Open surgical treatment compared with non-surgical treatment (6 trials, 536 participants) was associated with a statistically significant lower risk of rerupture (risk ratio (RR) 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.21 to 0.77), but a higher risk of other complications including infection (RR 4.89, 95% CI 1.09 to 21.91), adhesions and disturbed skin sensibility (numbness). Functional status including sporting activity was variably and often incompletely reported, including frequent use of non standardised outcome measures, and the results were inconclusive.Open surgical repair compared with percutaneous repair (4 trials, 174 participants) was associated with a higher risk of infection (RR 9.32, 95% CI 1.77 to 49.16). These figures should be interpreted with caution because of the small numbers involved. Similarly, no definitive conclusions could be made regarding different tendon repair techniques (3 trials, 147 participants).
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Open surgical treatment of acute Achilles tendon ruptures significantly reduces the risk of rerupture compared with non-surgical treatment, but produces significantly higher risks of other complications, including wound infection. The latter may be reduced by performing surgery percutaneously.