Background: In patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy, several operative techniques have been described for treatment. A case report has shown that gastrocnemius recession as treatment can normalize MRI findings and relieve clinical symptoms consistent with chronic Achilles tendinopathy. The purpose of this study was to present the results of the treatment of chronic Achilles tendinopathy with gastrocnemius recession.
Methods: Of 12 patients, 8 (7 females, 1 male) who underwent gastrocnemius recession for refractory Achilles tendinopathy between July 2004 and January 2009 were available for follow-up. All patients filled out a SF-36 health survey, a foot function index, an AOFAS ankle and hindfoot scale, and a simple survey formulated by our group of investigators. Of the 8 patients, 7 were available to return for clinical assessment. Patients had an average age of 49.9 years (SD = 11.6) at the time of surgery and average time of follow-up was 34.6 months (SD = 18.1).
Results: The mean pain score (VAS 0-10 scale) significantly decreased from 7.3 (SD = 1.7) preoperatively to 1 (SD = 1.8) postoperatively at the time of follow-up (P < .001). The mean AOFAS ankle and hindfoot score was 94.4 (SD = 9.8), which was significantly improved when compared with previously published scores for patients who underwent Achilles debridement with FHL transfer (P = .007). All 8 categories on the SF-36 health survey showed no significant difference with published data for US population values and previously published data for patients who underwent FHL transfer.
Conclusion: Gastrocnemius recession for the treatment of refractory Achilles tendinopathy was a viable treatment option following the failure of nonoperative management. All 8 of our patients had excellent pain relief, good clinical outcome, and were satisfied at the time of follow-up.