Historically the incidence of Achilles re-ruptures has been described as around 5% after surgical repair and up to 21% after conservative management. In 2008 we commenced a dedicated Achilles tendon rupture clinic for both conservative and surgically managed patients using new standardised operating procedures (SOP). We have evaluated the impact of this new service, particularly with regard to re-rupture rate.
Materials and methods:
The SOP was stage dependent and included an initial ultrasound examination, functional orthotics with early weight bearing, accelerated exercise and guidelines for the return to work and sport. Evaluation included re-rupture rate, complication rate, and outcome measured by the Achilles Tendon Total Rupture Score (ATRS) and Achilles Tendon Repair Score (AS). A basic cost evaluation was performed to assess any potential savings.
A total of 213 patients (151 treated conservatively and 62 surgically) were included. Re-rupture occurred in two patients (1 conservative and 1 surgically managed). There were 16 major complications e.g. DVT, wound infection. The mean ATRS was 54.79, 67.66 and 71.05 at 4, 6 and 9 months respectively and the mean AS was 64.67, 73.96 and 71.05 at 4, 6 and 9 months respectively. The reduction in re-rupture compared to the literature was 4.1% and 19.1% for surgical and conservatively treated patients respectively. Cost savings achieved were £50,000 each annum. This was due to both a decrease in the number of re-ruptures as well as a decrease in the number of patients being managed operatively.
A dedicated follow up Achilles clinic treating acute Achilles tendon ruptures using monitored SOP's, provides an exceptionally low re-rupture rate (0.9%), excellent patient outcome and potential cost savings compared to a traditional fracture clinic approach. The reduction in re-rupture rate, and therefore cost savings, is greater in conservatively managed patients.