Etiology, histopathology, and outcome of surgery in achillodynia

Foot Ankle Int. 1997 Sep;18(9):565-9. doi: 10.1177/107110079701800906.


Fifty-eight patients suffering from achillodynia for a median of 12 months (range, 4-240 months) were analyzed using history, clinical findings, ultrasound findings, histopathology, and surgical outcome. Surgical criteria were daily pain or inability to perform sports activity and failure of nonoperative treatment. There were 34 men and 24 women, 31% (18 of 58 patients) of whom had no direct association with sports or vigorous physical activity. Ultrasonography was performed in all cases and showed low echogenous areas (N = 48), increased tendon diameter (N = 40), and/or peritendinous fluid (N = 11). Histopathological evaluation of tendon biopsies, obtained from regions showing pathology at surgery (N = 35), revealed altered fiber structure and arrangement, focal variations in cellularity, extracellular glycosaminoglycans, neovascularization, and/or hyalinization. In no case was inflammatory cell infiltration observed. At a median clinical follow-up of 25 months after surgery, symptoms were decreased in 86% of patients, and 76% had reached a higher activity level compared with the level before surgery. Complications occurred in 13% of operations. In conclusion, achillodynia is not always associated with excessive physical activity. Macroscopic pathologic tendons showed marked histopathologic changes, correlating well with ultrasound findings. Surgical treatment was beneficial in most cases, despite a relatively high complication rate. The etiology and reason for the lack of healing response to rest and nonoperative treatment are unclear.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / pathology
  • Achilles Tendon / physiopathology
  • Achilles Tendon / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendon Injuries / physiopathology
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*