Purpose: To investigate the outcome of ultrasound (US)-guided intratissue percutaneous electrolysis (EPI(®)) and eccentric exercise in the treatment of patellar tendinopathy during a long-term follow-up.
Methods: Forty patients with patellar tendinopathy were prospectively evaluated over a 10-year follow-up period. Pain and function were evaluated before treatment, at 3 months and at 2, 5 and 10 years using the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Patella (VISA-P) score, the Tegner score and Blazina's classification. According to VISA-P score at baseline, patients were also dichotomized into Group 1 (<50 points) and Group 2 (≥50 points). There were 21 patients in Group 1 and 19 in Group 2. Patient satisfaction was measured according to the Roles and Maudsley score.
Results: The VISA-P score improved globally by 41.2 points (p < 0.01) after a mean 4.1 procedures. In Group 1, VISA-P score improved from 33.1 ± 13 to 78.9 ± 14.4 at 3-month and to 88.8 ± 10.1 at 10-year follow-up (p < 0.001). In Group 2, VISA-P score improved from 69.3 ± 10.5 to 84.9 ± 9 at 3-month and to 96.0 ± 4.3 at 10-year follow-up (p < 0.001). After 10 years, 91.2 % of the patients had a VISA-P score >80 points. The same level (80 % of patients) or the Tegner score at no more than one level lower (20 % of patients) was restored, and 97.5 % of the patients were satisfied with the procedure.
Conclusion: Treatment with the US-guided EPI(®) technique and eccentric exercises in patellar tendinopathy resulted in a great improvement in knee function and a rapid return to the previous level of activity after few sessions. The procedure has proved to be safe with no recurrences on a long-term basis.
Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV.