Single-row versus double-row repair of the distal achilles tendon: a biomechanical comparison

Holly Pilson, Philip Brown, Joel Stitzel, Aaron Scott
Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery 2012, 51 (6): 762-6
Surgery for recalcitrant insertional Achilles tendinopathy often consists of partial or total release of the insertion site, debridement of the diseased portion of the tendon, calcaneal ostectomy, and reattachment of the Achilles to the calcaneus. Although single-row and double-row techniques exist for repair of the detached Achilles tendon, biomechanical data are lacking to support one technique over the other. Based on data extrapolated from the study of rotator cuff repairs, we hypothesized that a double-row construct would provide superior fixation strength over a single-row repair. Eighteen human cadaveric Achilles tendons (9 matched pairs) with attached calcanei were repaired with single-row or double-row techniques. Specimens were mounted in a servohydraulic materials testing machine, subjected to a preconditioning cycle, and loaded to failure. Failure was defined as suture breakage or pullout, midsubstance tendon rupture, or anchor pullout. Among the failures were 12 suture failures, 5 proximal-row anchor failures, and 1 distal-row anchor failure. No midsubstance tendon ruptures or testing apparatus failures were observed. There were no statistically significant differences in the peak load to failure between the single-row and double-row repairs (p = .46). Similarly, no significant differences were observed with regards to mean energy expenditure to failure (p = .069). The present study demonstrated no biomechanical advantages of the double-row repair over a single-row repair. Despite the lack of a clear biomechanical advantage, there may exist clinical advantages of a double-row repair, such as reduction in knot prominence and restoration of the Achilles footprint.

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