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Achilles tendon resting angle is able to detect deficits after an Achilles tendon rupture, but it is not a surrogate for direct measurements of tendon elongation, function or symptoms.

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate how the Achilles tendon resting angle (ATRA), an indirect measurement of tendon elongation, correlates with ultrasonography (US) measurements of the Achilles tendon length 6 and 12 months after an acute ATR and relates to other clinical outcome measurements such as heel-rise height, jumping ability and patient-reported outcome measurements (PROMs).

METHODS: Patients were included following acute Achilles tendon rupture (ATR). Achilles tendon length, ATRA, heel-rise height (HRH), drop countermovement jump (Drop CMJ) and PROMs (Achilles tendon total rupture score (ATRS) and physical activity scale (PAS)) were evaluated 6 and 12 months after injury. Achilles tendon length was evaluated using US, while the ATRA was measured with a goniometer.

RESULTS: Sixty patients (13 women, 47 men), mean (SD) age 43 (9) years, with an acute ATR undergoing either surgical (35%) or non-surgical (65%) treatment were evaluated. A negative correlation (r = - 0.356, p = 0.010) between relative ATRA and tendon elongation was seen at 12 months after ATR. There were also significant positive correlations at 6 and 12 months between relative ATRA and HRH (r = 0.330, p = 0.011 and r = 0.379, p = 0.004). There were no correlations between ATRA and ATRS or ATRA and Drop CMJ, at either 6 or 12 months after the injury.

CONCLUSION: In combination with other clinical evaluations such as HRH and US, ATRA could be a clinical tool for indirect measurements of tendon elongation. However, ATRA cannot be recommended as a direct surrogate for US for determining Achilles tendon length.


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