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Achilles tendinopathy—do plantaris tendon removal and Achilles tendon scraping improve tendon structure? A prospective study using ultrasound tissue characterisation
  1. Lorenzo Masci1,
  2. Christoph Spang2,
  3. Hans T M van Schie3,
  4. Håkan Alfredson1,4,5
  1. 1Pure Sports Medicine Clinic, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Anatomy Section, Umea University, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Scientific Research, UTC Imaging, Stein, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Umeå University, Sweden
  5. 5ISEH, University College London Hospitals, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Håkan Alfredson; hakan.alfredson{at}


Objectives The plantaris tendon has recently been described as a possible important factor in midportion Achilles tendinopathy. Ultrasound tissue characterisation (UTC) is a method to study tendon structure (matrix integrity). The effect of plantaris tendon removal on Achilles tendon structure was studied using UTC.

Design and setting Prospective case series study at one centre.

Participants Nine tendons in eight physically active and healthy patients (mean age 39 years) with chronic painful midportion Achilles tendinopathy were included. Preoperative two-dimensional ultrasound and UTC showed midportion Achilles tendinopathy (tendinosis) with medial tendon changes and suspected plantaris tendon involvement. Patients with previous operations to the Achilles tendon were excluded.

Interventions Operative treatment consisted of excision of the plantaris tendon and scraping of the ventromedial surface of the Achilles tendon under a local anaesthetic.

Primary and secondary outcome measures UTC examination and clinical scoring with the VISA-A questionnaire were performed preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively.

Results At 6 months follow-up, UTC demonstrated a statistically significant (t=5.40, p<0.001) increase in the mean organised matrix (echo-type I+II) and a decrease in the mean disorganised matrix (echo-type III+IV). Seven out of eight patients were satisfied, and the VISA-A score had increased significantly (p<0.001) from 56.8 (range 34–73) preoperatively to 93.3 (range 87–100) postoperatively.

Conclusions Excision of the plantaris tendon and scraping of the ventromedial Achilles tendon in chronic midportion tendinopathy seem to have the potential to improve tendon structure and reduce tendon pain. Studies on a larger group of patients and with a longer follow-up period are needed.

  • Plantaris tendon
  • Ultrasound Tissue Characterisation
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Plantaris tendon removal
  • Achilles tendon scraping

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