Operative versus non-operative treatment of acute rupture of tendo Achillis

A PROSPECTIVE RANDOMISED EVALUATION OF FUNCTIONAL OUTCOME

J. F. Keating, E. M. Will

Abstract

A total of 80 patients with an acute rupture of tendo Achillis were randomised to operative repair using an open technique (39 patients) or non-operative treatment in a cast (41 patients). Patients were followed up for one year. Outcome measures included clinical complications, range of movement of the ankle, the Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment (SMFA), and muscle function dynamometry evaluating dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the ankle. The primary outcome measure was muscle dynamometry.

Re-rupture occurred in two of 37 patients (5%) in the operative group and four of 39 (10%) in the non-operative group, which was not statistically significant (p = 0.68). There was a slightly greater range of plantar flexion and dorsiflexion of the ankle in the operative group at three months which was not statistically significant, but at four and six months the range of dorsiflexion was better in the non-operative group, although this did not reach statistically significance either. After 12 weeks the peak torque difference of plantar flexion compared with the normal side was less in the operative than the non-operative group (47% vs 61%, respectively, p < 0.005). The difference declined to 26% and 30% at 26 weeks and 20% and 25% at 52 weeks, respectively. The difference in dorsiflexion peak torque from the normal side was less than 10% by 26 weeks in both groups, with no significant differences. The mean SMFA scores were significantly better in the operative group than the non-operative group at three months (15 vs 20, respectively, p < 0.03). No significant differences were observed after this, and at one year the scores were similar in both groups.

We were unable to show a convincing functional benefit from surgery for patients with an acute rupture of the tendo Achillis compared with conservative treatment in plaster.

  • Received October 6, 2010.
  • Accepted March 3, 2011.
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