Endoscopically assisted reconstruction of chronic Achilles tendon ruptures and re-ruptures using a semitendinosus autograft is a viable alternative to pre-existing techniques (2022)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Nilsson N; Gunnarsson B; *Carmont MR; Brorsson A; Karlsson J; Nilsson Helander K

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy : official journal of the ESSKA, 2022 Apr 09 [epub ahead of print]

Purpose: Achilles tendon ruptures are termed chronic after a delay in treatment for more than 4 weeks. The literature advocates surgical treatment with reconstruction to regain ankle push-off strength. The preferred technique is, however, still unknown and is often individualized. This study aims to present the technique and clinical outcome of an endoscopically assisted free semitendinosus reconstruction of chronic Achilles tendon rupture and Achilles tendon re-ruptures with delayed representation. It is hypothesized that the presented technique is a viable and safe alternative for distal Achilles tendon ruptures and ruptures with large tendon gaps.
Method: Twenty-two patients (13 males and 9 females) with a median (range) age of 64 (34-73) treated surgically with endoscopically assisted Achilles tendon reconstruction using a semitendinosus autograft were included. The patients were evaluated at 12 months post-operatively for Achilles tendon Total Rupture Score (ATRS), calf circumference, Achilles Tendon Resting Angle (ATRA), heel-rise height and repetitions together with tendon length determined by ultrasonography, concentric heel-rise power and heel-rise work.
Results: The patients reported a median (range) ATRS of 76 (45-99) out of 100. The median (range) ATRA on the injured side was 60° (49°-75°) compared with 49.5° (40-61°), p < 0.001, on the non-injured side. Eighteen out of 22 patients were able to perform a single-leg heel-rise on the non-injured side. Sixteen patients out of those 18 (89%) were also able to perform a single heel-rise on the injured side. They did, however, perform significantly lower number of repetitions compared with the non-injured side with a median (range) heel-rise repetitions of 11 (2-22) compared with 26 (2-27), (p < 0.001), and a median (range) heel-rise height of 5.5 cm (1.0-11.0 cm) compared with 9.0 cm (5.0-11.5 cm), (p < 0.001). The median calf circumference was 1.5 cm smaller on the injured side, 37.5 cm compared with 39 cm, when medians were compared. The median (range) tendon length of the injured side was 24.8 cm (20-28.2 cm) compared with 22 cm (18.4-24.2 cm), (p < 0.001), on the non-injured side.
Conclusion: The study shows that endoscopically assisted reconstruction using a semitendinosus graft to treat chronic Achilles tendon ruptures and re-ruptures with delayed representation produces a satisfactory outcome. The technique can restore heel-rise height in patients with more distal ruptures or large tendon defects and is therefore a viable technique for Achilles tendon reconstruction.
Level of Evidence: IV.