Comparison of Tendon Lengthening with Traditional vs. Accelerated Rehab Following Achilles Tendon Repair: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Okoroha K, Ussef N, Eller E, Zeni F, and Moutzouros V. Comparison of Tendon Lengthening with Traditional vs. Accelerated Rehab Following Achilles Tendon Repair: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Orthop J Sports Med 2019; 7(7).
Orthop J Sports Med
Objectives: Operative repair of Achilles tendon ruptures have shown successful outcomes. However, little is know about the amount of tendon or repair site lengthening after repair and if lengthening is affected by rehab protocols. The purpose of our study was to compare lengthening of the Achilles tendon after surgical repair, comparing traditional and accelerated rehab protocols. Methods: Twenty patients undergoing primary repair of Achilles tendon ruptures were assessed for participation. We performed a prospective randomized controlled trial in accordance with the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) 2010 statement. The study arms included operative repair of Achilles tendon rupture with either accelerated (graduated weight bearing at 2 weeks) or traditional rehab (weight bearing at 6 weeks). During repair, two 2-mm tantalum beads with laser-etched holes were sutured to the Achilles tendon at the repair site. Beads were evaluated via CT scans immediately post-operatively and at 12 weeks. X-rays were obtained at time 0 and then at 2, 6, and 12 weeks. The primary outcome of the study was the difference in tendon or repair site lengthening between the study arms. Randomization was by a computerized algorithm. The observer was blinded and the patient was not blinded to the intervention. Results: Zero patients declined participation and all 20 patients were included for final analysis. All patients showed statistically significant lengthening at two weeks following surgery. There was a trend toward increased lengthening at 6 weeks in the accelerated rehab group (9.9mm, range 2.6 -13.9mm) compared to the traditional rehab group (4.1mm, range 1.5 -9.0mm), although this was not statistically significant; p = .07. However the final amount of tendon lengthening at 12 weeks after surgery was not different between the accelerated rehab group (14.4mm, range 11.7 -17.0mm) and the traditional rehab group (13.4mm, range 10.7 -17.0mm); p = .38. Conclusion: This study's findings suggest that all patients undergoing operative repair of Achilles tendon ruptures have significant lengthening after surgery. Although there was a trend toward increased lengthening at 6 weeks in the accelerated rehab group, there was no difference in tendon lengthening at final follow up between the two groups.