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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinical Investigations

Management of Achilles tendinopathy by ultrasound-guided percutaneous tenotomy

TESTA, VITTORINO; CAPASSO, GIOVANNI; BENAZZO, FRANCO; MAFFULLI, NICOLA

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Abstract

TESTA, V., G. CAPASSO, F. BENAZZO, and N. MAFFULLI. Management of Achilles tendinopathy by ultrasound-guided percutaneous tenotomy. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 573–580, 2002.

Purpose: To report the middle to long-term results of ultrasound-guided percutaneous longitudinal tenotomy of the Achilles tendon

Method: Seventy-five athletes with unilateral Achilles tendinopathy underwent ultrasound-guided percutaneous longitudinal tenotomy under local anesthetic infiltration after failure of conservative management. Sixty-three patients were reviewed at least 36 months after the operation (51 ± 18.2 months).

Results: Thirty-five patients were rated excellent, 12 good, 9 fair, and 7 poor. Nine of the 16 patients with a fair or poor result underwent a formal exploration of the Achilles tendon 7–12 months after the index procedure. The operated tendons remained thickened and the ultrasonographic appearance of operated tendons remained abnormal even 8 yr after the operation, without interfering with physical training. Isometric maximal muscle strength and isometric endurance gradually returned to values similar to their contralateral unoperated tendon.

Conclusions: Percutaneous longitudinal ultrasound-guided internal tenotomy is simple, can be performed on an outpatient basis, requires minimal follow-up care, does not hinder further surgery should it be unsuccessful, and, in our experience, has produced no significant complications. It should be considered in the management of chronic Achilles tendinopathy after failure of conservative management. However, patients should be advised that, if they suffer from diffuse or multinodular tendinopathy or from pantendinopathy, a formal surgical exploration with stripping of the paratenon and multiple longitudinal tenotomies may be preferable.

©2002The American College of Sports Medicine

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