In the past few decades, the incidence of Achilles tendon rupture has increased in parallel with increased sports participation. Although the optimal treatment remains controversial, there is a trend towards surgical treatment in athletes.
Surgical repair of ruptured Achilles tendon in athlete results in good functional and objective recovery, irrespective of the type of surgery performed. Subsidiarily, are the results different between percutaneous surgery (PS) and standard open surgery (OS)?
Materials and methods
This was a cross-sectional study of 31 patients who presented with a ruptured Achilles tendon that occurred during sports participation. Percutaneous surgery was performed in 16 patients and open surgery in 15 patients between 2005 and 2009. The objective recovery status was evaluated by open chain goniometry, measurement of leg muscle atrophy and assessment of isokinetic strength. The functional analysis was based on the delay, level of sports upon return, AOFAS and VAS for pain.
Our series of Achilles tendon rupture patients consisted of 88% men and 12% women, with an average age of 38years. In 71% of cases, the rupture occurred during eccentric loading. After a follow-up of 15months, the muscle atrophy was 13mm after PS and 24mm after OS (P=0.01). A strength deficit of 19% in the plantar flexors was found in the two groups. No patient experienced a rerupture. The return to sports occurred at 130days after PS and 178days after OS (P=0.005). The average AOFAS score was 94 and the VAS was 0.5. There were no differences in ankle range of motion between the two groups. The majority (77%) of patients had returned to their preinjury level of sports activity.
The return to activities of daily living was slower in our study than in studies based in Anglo-Saxon countries; this can be explained by the different sick leave coverage systems. Percutaneous surgery resulted in a faster return to sports (about 130days) and less muscle atrophy than open surgery. Our results for return to sports and return to preinjury levels were similar to published results for athletes and were independent of the type of surgery performed. The AOFAS score was comparable to published studies. We found no difference in muscle strength between the two surgery groups 15months after the procedure. Apart from venous thrombosis typically described after lower-limb immobilization, secondary postoperative complications mostly consisted of sural paresthesia, which had resolved at the 15-month postoperative follow-up evaluation.
The results of surgical treatment for ruptured Achilles tendon are good overall. By combining the simplicity of conservative treatment and the reliability of standard surgical treatment, percutaneous surgery is the treatment of choice to achieve excellent results. The return to sports occurred earlier, the muscle atrophy was less and the functional score was better in our patients treated by percutaneous surgery.
Level of evidence
Level IV.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Rupture, Tendon, Achilles, Athlete, Surgery