Blood supply of the Achilles tendon

J Orthop Res. 1998 Sep;16(5):591-6. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100160511.


The Achilles tendon is one of the most common sites of injury and rupture as a result of overuse. Evidence suggests that the pathogenesis of rupture could involve the pattern of its blood supply. With use of angiographic and histological techniques, the blood supply of the Achilles tendon was investigated in 12 human cadaveric specimens. Angiography confirmed Mayer's 1916 finding that the blood supply to the tendon is from three areas: the musculotendinous and osseotendinous junctions and the paratenon, with the posterior tibial artery providing the major contribution. However, qualitative and quantitative histological analyses in this study showed that the Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply throughout its length, as determined by the small number of blood vessels per cross-sectional area, which do not in general vary significantly along its length. In light of these findings, it is suggested that poor vascularity may prevent adequate tissue repair following trauma, leading to further weakening of the tendon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / blood supply*
  • Achilles Tendon / cytology
  • Achilles Tendon / pathology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography
  • Calcaneus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rupture
  • Tibial Arteries / anatomy & histology*