Background: Several surgical procedures for chronically ruptured Achilles tendons have been reported. Resection of the interposed scar tissue located between the tendon stumps and reconstruction using normal autologous tissue have been well described. We developed a direct repair procedure that uses scar tissue, which obviates the need to use normal autologous tissue.
Methods: Thirty consecutive patients with Achilles tendon ruptures with a delay in diagnosis of >4 weeks underwent removal of a section of scar and healing tissue with direct primary suture of the ends of the tendon without the use of allograft or autograft. Patients were followed for a mean time of 33 months. Preoperative and postoperative clinical outcomes were measured with the Achilles Tendon Total Rupture Score (ATRS) and the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) ankle-hindfoot score. In addition, the patients underwent preoperative and postoperative functional measurements and magnetic resonance imaging. Lastly, we evaluated the histology of the interposed healing tissue.
Results: The mean AOFAS scores were 82.8 points preoperatively and 98.1 points postoperatively. The mean postoperative ATRS was 92.0 points. At the time of the latest follow-up, none of the patients had experienced tendon reruptures or difficulties in walking or climbing stairs, and all except 2 patients could perform a single-limb heel rise. All athletes had returned to their pre-injury level of sports participation. Preoperative T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging showed that 22 Achilles tendons were thickened with diffuse intratendinous high-signal alterations, and 8 Achilles tendons were thinned. Postoperative T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging findings included fusiform-shaped tendon thickening and homogeneous low-signal alterations of the tendons in all patients. Histologically, the interposed scar tissue consisted of dense collagen fibers.
Conclusions: Shortening of the tissue between the 2 tendon ends that included healing scar and direct repair of healing tendon without allograft or autograft can be effective for treatment-delayed or neglected Achilles tendon rupture.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Osaka Medical College, Osaka, Japan
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