Pathogenesis, detection and treatment of Achilles tendon xanthomas

Eur J Clin Invest. 2005 Apr;35(4):236-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2005.01484.x.


Tendon xanthomatosis often accompanies familial hypercholesterolaemia, but it can also occur in other pathologic states. Achilles tendons are the most common sites of tendon xanthomas. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) derived from the circulation accumulates into tendons. The next steps leading to the formation of Achilles tendon xanthomas (ATX) are the transformation of LDL into oxidized LDL (oxLDL) and the active uptake of oxLDL by macrophages within the tendons. Although physical examination may reveal Achilles tendon xanthomas (ATX), there are several imaging methods for their detection. It is worth mentioning that ultrasonography is the method of choice in everyday clinical practice. Although several treatments for Achilles tendon xanthomas (ATX) have been proposed (LDL apheresis, statins, etc.), they target mostly in the treatment of the basic metabolic disorder of lipid metabolism, which is the main cause of these lesions. In this review we describe the formation, detection, differential diagnosis and treatment of ATX as well as the relationship between tendon xanthomas and atheroma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / pathology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / complications
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / pathology
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / complications
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / pathology
  • Xanthomatosis / complications
  • Xanthomatosis / diagnosis*
  • Xanthomatosis / pathology


  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Cholesterol