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7th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Lisbon - 4-7 June, 2005


Introduction: Treatment for ruptured Achilles tendon can be classified into operative (open or percutaneous) and non-operative (cast immobilisation or functional bracing); post-operative splintage can be with a rigid cast or functional brace. The aim was to identify and summarise the evidence from randomised trials of the effectiveness of different interventions.

Methods: We searched the Cochrane specialised register, MEDLINE, reference lists of articles and contacted trialists directly for all randomised and quasiran-domised trials comparing different treatment regimes for acute Achilles tendon ruptures.

Results: Fourteen trials involving 891 patients were included.

Open operative treatment compared with non-operative treatment was associated with a lower risk of re-rupture (odds ratio (OR) = 0.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.1–0.6, p=0.003) but a higher risk of other complications including infection, adhesions and disturbed sensibility (OR = 14.1, 95%CI = 6.3–31.7, p< 0.00001).

Open versus percutaneous operative surgical repair was associated with a longer operation duration and higher risk of infection (OR = 12.9, 95%CI = 1.6–105.6, p=0.02).

Patients splinted with a functional brace rather than a cast post-operatively tended to have a shorter in-patient stay, less time off work, quicker return to sporting activities and fewer reported complications (p=0.0003).

Because of the small number of patients involved no definitive conclusions could be made regarding different operative techniques and different non-operative regimes.

Conclusions: Open operative treatment significantly reduces the risk of re-rupture but has the drawback of a significantly higher risk of other complications, including wound infection. The latter may be reduced by performing surgery percutaneously. Post-operative splintage in a functional brace appears to reduce hospital stay and time off work and sports.

Theses abstracts were prepared by Professor Roger Lemaire. Correspondence should be addressed to EFORT Central Office, Freihofstrasse 22, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland.