Can local corticosteroid injection in the retrocalcaneal bursa lead to rupture of the Achilles tendon and the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle?

A Turmo-Garuz, G Rodas, R Balius, L Til, M Miguel-Perez, C Pedret, A Del Buono, N Maffulli
Musculoskeletal Surgery 2014, 98 (2): 121-6

PURPOSE: The purpose of the study is to explain the cause-effect relationship in three patients who reported combined ruptures of the Achilles tendon and the gastrosoleus complex 6 months after they had received corticosteroids injections for the management of retrocalcaneal bursitis.

METHODS: Three cryopreserved cadavers (three men, three left legs) were examined to assess the anatomic connection between the retrocalcaneal bursa and the Achilles tendon (distal and anterior fibers). Blue triptan medium contrast was injected.

RESULTS: An unexpected connection between the retrocalcaneal bursa and the anterior fibers of the Achilles tendon was found in all instances.

CONCLUSIONS: Local corticosteroid injection of the retrocalcaneal bursa may help the symptoms of retrocalcanear bursitis, but pose a risk of Achilles tendon rupture. This risk-benefit has to be taken into account when corticosteroid injections are prescribed to professional and high-level athletes.

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