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Concept: Tendons


BackgroundLess invasive percutaneous acute Achilles tendon rupture repair techniques gain popularity because of lower risk of surgical wound complications. But these approaches have an increased risk of sural nerve iatrogenic injury as this sensory nerve is usually not visualized during minimally invasive operative procedures. We compared standard percutaneous Bunnell type and our proposed modified-medialized percutaneous technique in a cadaver study to evaluate potential advantages. Methods10 pairs of fresh frozen specimens were divided into two groups for comparative anatomical study. Tenotomies of Achilles tendons were made and wounds sutured. 10 standard and 10 modified-medialized repairs were applied for artificially performed ruptures. All sutured tendons were dissected meticulously. We carefully looked at repaired Achilles tendon end-to-end contact and adaptation, distance from Achilles insertion in calcaneal tubercle to place where sural nerve crosses lateral border of the Achilles tendon and possible sural nerve and vein entrapment. Groups were compared using Fisher’s exact and Student-T tests.ResultsAll ends of sharply dissected tendons in both groups were in sufficient contact. No measurable diastasis between tendon ends was found in all cases. No entrapment of sural nerve or vein was found in modified percutaneous Bunnell suture technique group. Whereas 7 of 10 sural nerves and 9 small saphenous veins were entrapped when using standard percutaneous Bunnell type technique. Average distance from Achilles tendon insertion in tuber calcanei to sural nerve crossing the lateral border of Achilles was 93 mm.ConclusionMedialization of percutaneous suture in acute Achilles tendon rupture repair show clear advantages compared to standard non medialized technique ensuring a possible lower incidence of sural nerve entrapment injury. Our modified percutaneous Bunnell type technique allows sufficient adaptation of ruptured Achilles tendon.

Concepts: Muscle, Wound, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendons, Small saphenous vein, Sural nerve, Achilles tendon rupture


Tendons are often injured and heal poorly. Whether this is caused by a slow tissue turnover is unknown, since existing data provide diverging estimates of tendon protein half-life that range from 2 mo to 200 yr. With the purpose of determining life-long turnover of human tendon tissue, we used the (14)C bomb-pulse method. This method takes advantage of the dramatic increase in atmospheric levels of (14)C, produced by nuclear bomb tests in 1955-1963, which is reflected in all living organisms. Levels of (14)C were measured in 28 forensic samples of Achilles tendon core and 4 skeletal muscle samples (donor birth years 1945-1983) with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and compared to known atmospheric levels to estimate tissue turnover. We found that Achilles tendon tissue retained levels of (14)C corresponding to atmospheric levels several decades before tissue sampling, demonstrating a very limited tissue turnover. The tendon concentrations of (14)C approximately reflected the atmospheric levels present during the first 17 yr of life, indicating that the tendon core is formed during height growth and is essentially not renewed thereafter. In contrast, (14)C levels in muscle indicated continuous turnover. Our observation provides a fundamental premise for understanding tendon function and pathology, and likely explains the poor regenerative capacity of tendon tissue.-Heinemeier, K. M., Schjerling, P., Heinemeier, J., Magnusson, S. P., Kjaer, M. Lack of tissue renewal in human adult Achilles tendon is revealed by nuclear bomb (14)C.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Biology, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Nuclear weapon, Tendons, Carbon-14, Accelerator mass spectrometry


INTRODUCTION: Achilles and patellar tendinopathy are overuse injuries that are common among athletes. Isolated eccentric muscle training has become the dominant conservative management strategy for Achilles and patellar tendinopathy but, in some cases, up to 45 % of patients may not respond. Eccentric-concentric progressing to eccentric (Silbernagel combined) and eccentric-concentric isotonic (heavy-slow resistance; HSR) loading have also been investigated. In order for clinicians to make informed decisions, they need to be aware of the loading options and comparative evidence. The mechanisms of loading also need to be elucidated in order to focus treatment to patient deficits and refine loading programmes in future studies. OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this review are to evaluate the evidence in studies that compare two or more loading programmes in Achilles and patellar tendinopathy, and to review the non-clinical outcomes (potential mechanisms), such as improved imaging outcomes, associated with clinical outcomes. METHODS: Comprehensive searching (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Current Contents and SPORTDiscus(™)) identified 403 studies. Two authors independently reviewed studies for inclusion and quality. The final yield included 32 studies; ten compared loading programmes and 28 investigated at least one potential mechanism (six studies compared loading programmes and investigated potential mechanisms). RESULTS: This review has identified limited (Achilles) and conflicting (patellar) evidence that clinical outcomes are superior with eccentric loading compared with other loading programmes, questioning the currently entrenched clinical approach to these injuries. There is equivalent evidence for Silbernagel combined (Achilles) and greater evidence for HSR loading (patellar). The only potential mechanism that was consistently associated with improved clinical outcomes in both Achilles and patellar tendon rehabilitation was improved neuromuscular performance (e.g. torque, work, endurance), and Silbernagel-combined (Achilles) HSR loading (patellar) had an equivalent or higher level of evidence than isolated eccentric loading. In the Achilles tendon, a majority of studies did not find an association between improved imaging (e.g. reduced anteroposterior diameter, proportion of tendons with Doppler signal) and clinical outcomes, including all high-quality studies. In contrast, HSR loading in the patellar tendon was associated with reduced Doppler area and anteroposterior diameter, as well as greater evidence of collagen turnover, and this was not seen following eccentric loading. HSR seems more likely to lead to tendon adaptation and warrants further investigation. Improved jump performance was associated with Achilles but not patellar tendon clinical outcomes. The mechanisms associated with clinical benefit may vary between loading interventions and tendons. CONCLUSION: There is little clinical or mechanistic evidence for isolating the eccentric component, although it should be made clear that there is a paucity of good quality evidence and several potential mechanisms have not been investigated, such as neural adaptation and central nervous system changes (e.g. cortical reorganization). Clinicians should consider eccentric-concentric loading alongside or instead of eccentric loading in Achilles and patellar tendinopathy. Good-quality studies comparing loading programmes and evaluating clinical and mechanistic outcomes are needed in both Achilles and patellar tendinopathy rehabilitation.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Collagen, Evidence-based medicine, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendinopathy, Tendons


The standard approach to reconstruction after resection of a diffuse-type tenosynovial giant cell tumor is a local patch with free flaps. However, in cases in which the Achilles tendon involvement is extensive, and the entire tendon must be removed, an autologous flap graft might not be adequate to allow a return to function. We report a case of a 52-year-old female patient who developed bilateral tumors of the Achilles tendon, with a 10-year duration. By the time, she sought medical help, both Achilles tendons required removal. We chose to use Achilles tendon allografts to replace the Achilles tendons. Postoperatively, the patient did well. The allograft shortened the recovery time, and the patient regained full ankle range of motion.

Concepts: Human anatomy, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendons, Achilles' heel, Achilles tendon rupture


The Achilles tendon has a high incidence of rupture, and the healing process leads to a disorganized extracellular matrix (ECM) with a high rate of injury recurrence. To evaluate the effects of different conditions of low-level laser (LLL) application on partially tenotomized tendons, adult male rats were divided into the following groups: G1, intact; G2, injured; G3, injured + LLL therapy (LLLT; 4 J/cm(2) continuous); G4, injured + LLLT (4 J/cm(2), 20 Hz); G5, injured; G6, injured + LLLT (4 J/cm(2) continuous); and G7, injured + LLLT (4 J/cm(2), 20 Hz until the 7th day and 2 kHz from 8 to 14 days). G2, G3, and G4 were euthanized 8 days after injury, and G5, G6, and G7 were euthanized on the 15th day. The quantification of hydroxyproline (HOPro) and non-collagenous protein (NCP), zymography for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9, and Western blotting (WB) for collagen types I and III were performed. HOPro levels showed a significant decrease in all groups (except G7) when compared with G1. The NCP level increased in all transected groups. WB for collagen type I showed an increase in G4 and G7. For collagen type III, G4 presented a higher value than G2. Zymography for MMP-2 indicated high values in G4 and G7. MMP-9 increased in both treatment groups euthanized at 8 days, especially in G4. Our results indicate that the pulsed LLLT improved the remodeling of the ECM during the healing process in tendons through activation of MMP-2 and stimulation of collagen synthesis.

Concepts: Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Cartilage, Matrix metalloproteinase, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendons, Type-I collagen


Tendinopathy is a widespread and disabling condition characterized by collagen fiber disruption and accumulation of a glycosaminoglycan-rich chondroid matrix. Recent clinical reports have illustrated the potential of mechanical loading (exercise) therapies to successfully treat chronic tendinopathies. We have developed a new murine tendinopathy model which requires a single injection of TGF-β1 into the Achilles tendon midsubstance followed by normal cage activity for 2 weeks. At this time, tendon maximum stress showed a dramatic (66%) reduction relative to that of normal controls and this persisted at four weeks. Loss of material properties was accompanied by abundant chondroid cells within the tendon (closely resembling the changes observed in human samples obtained intra-operatively) and increased expression of Acan, Col1a1, Col2a1, Col3a1, Fn1 and Mmp3. Mice subjected to two weeks of daily treadmill exercise following TGF-β1 injection showed a similar reduction in tendon material properties as the caged group. However, in mice subjected to 4 weeks of treadmill exercise, tendon maximum stress values were similar to those of naive controls. Tendons from the mice exercised for 4 weeks showed essentially no chondroid cells and the expression of Acan, Col1a1, Col2a1, Col3a1, and Mmp3 was significantly reduced relative to the 4-week cage group. This technically simple murine tendinopathy model is highly amenable to detailed mechanistic and translational studies of the biomechanical and cell biological pathways, that could be targeted to enhance healing of tendinopathy.

Concepts: Gene, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Muscle, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendinopathy, Tendons


Jumper’s knee is a frequent chronic overuse syndrome of the upper part of the patellar tendon. Platelets contain lots of growth factors which could enhance the healing process of tendons.

Concepts: Wound healing, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Healing, Cartilage, Tibia, Tendon, Tendons


BACKGROUND:A complete rupture of the Achilles tendon is a devastating injury. Variables affecting return to competition and performance changes for National Basketball Association (NBA) players are not readily evident. HYPOTHESIS:Players in the NBA who ruptured their Achilles tendons and who underwent surgical repair would have more experience in the league, and the performance of those who were able to return to competition would be decreased when compared with their performance before injury and with their control-matched peers. STUDY DESIGN:Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS:Data for 18 basketball players with Achilles tendon repair over a 23-year period (1988-2011) were obtained from injury reports, press releases, and player profiles. Variables included age, body mass index (BMI), player position, and number of years playing in the league. Individual season statistics were obtained, and the NBA Player Efficiency Rating (PER) was calculated for 2 seasons before and after injury. Controls were matched by playing position, number of seasons played, and performance statistics. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to assess the effect of each factor. RESULTS:At the time of injury, the average age was 29.7 years, average BMI was 25.6, and average playing experience was 7.6 years. Seven players never returned to play an NBA game, whereas 11 players returned to play 1 season, with 8 of those players returning for ≥2 seasons. Players who returned missed an average of 55.9 games. The PER was reduced by 4.57 (P = .003) in the first season and by 4.38 (P = .010) in the second season. When compared with controls, players demonstrated a significant decline in the PER the first season (P = .038) and second season (P = .081) after their return. CONCLUSION:The NBA players who returned to play after repair of complete Achilles tendon ruptures showed a significant decrease in playing time and performance. Thirty-nine percent of players never returned to play.

Concepts: Body mass index, Multivariate statistics, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Basketball, Tendons, National Basketball Association, Achilles tendon rupture


The presence of mechanical linkages between synergistic muscles and their common tendons may distribute forces among the involved structures. We review studies, using humans and other animals, examining muscle and tendon interactions and discuss the hypothesis that connections between muscle bellies and within tendons may serve as a mechanism to distribute forces and mitigate peak stresses.

Concepts: Energy, Glucose, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Coupling, Muscle, Tendon, Tendons


The Achilles tendon has a unique structure-function relationship thanks to its innate hierarchical architecture in combination with the rotational anatomy of the sub-tendons from the triceps surae muscles. Previous research has provided valuable insight in global Achilles tendon mechanics, but limitations with the technique used remain. Furthermore, given the global approach evaluating muscle-tendon junction to insertion, regional differences in tendon mechanical properties might be overlooked. However, recent advancements in the field of ultrasound imaging in combination with speckle tracking have made an intratendinous evaluation possible. This study uses high-frequency ultrasound to allow for quantification of regional tendon deformation. Also, an interactive application was developed to improve clinical applicability. A dynamic ultrasound of both Achilles tendons of ten asymptomatic subjects was taken. The displacement and regional strain in the superficial, middle and deep layer were evaluated during passive elongation and isometric contraction. Building on previous research, results showed that the Achilles tendon displaces non-uniformly with a higher displacement found in the deep layer of the tendon. Adding to this, a non-uniform regional strain behavior was found in the Achilles tendon during passive elongation, with the highest strain in the superficial layer. Further exploration of tendon mechanics will improve the knowledge on etiology of tendinopathy and provide options to optimize existing therapeutic loading programs.

Concepts: Continuum mechanics, Tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendons, Achilles' heel, Achilles tendon rupture