Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2021 Oct 25. doi: 10.1111/sms.14078. Online ahead of print.
Achilles tendinopathy is among the most frequent tendon injuries in sport. Despite evidence-based management, a significant proportion of patients continue to experience symptoms. This is the first randomised trial to investigate the effect of tendoscopic treatment of midportion Achilles tendinopathy compared with placebo at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months. Patients with midportion Achilles tendinopathy (non-responsive to more than 6 months of nonsurgical treatments) were randomly assigned to receive either tendoscopic peritendon shaving or placebo tendoscopic treatment. The primary outcome measure was the total score of the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment Achilles (VISA-A) questionnaire. Due to three adverse events (sural nerve injuries), in the group receiving tendoscopic treatment, the trial was stopped short of the planned 48 participants. All 23 patients included completed 3 months’ follow-up (100%), 22 (96%) 6 months’ and 19 (83%) completed 12 months’ follow-up. The between-group estimates favoured endoscopic treatment and ranged from 19 points (95% CI: 1-38) at 3 months, 14 points (-7 to 34) at 6 months and 5 points (95% CI: -19 to 28) at 12 months. After 12 months, the tendoscopic group improved 47 points (95% CI: 29-65) versus 40 points (95% CI: 22-57) in the placebo operated group. Despite a smaller sample size due to adverse events, VISA-A indicate faster recovery from tendoscopic treatment compared to placebo. These data suggest that tendoscopic treatment of midportion Achilles tendinopathy should be tested in further research; however, the technique needs to be refined to avoid sural nerve injuries.
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