A region of avascularity mid-way along the length of the Achilles tendon has long been associated with rupture. Whilst it is agreed that this region is the location most common to rupture, the exact vascular distribution appears unclear. Regions of avascularity identified within the tendon have included the origin and insertion, as well as the midsection. This review aims to analyse critically and summarise all previous studies of the vascularisation of the healthy human Achilles tendon, in order to determine the most likely region of avascularity and, thereby establish whether a relationship exists between vascularisation and rupture. Whilst no definitive conclusion was reached, it was concluded that the vascularisation does affect the tensile strength and so rupture vulnerability of the healthy Achilles tendon, although it is unlikely to be either the sole, or most significant, contributor. Other factors, such as thinning and twisting of the tendon at the midsection are mechanical influences that will increase the incidence of rupture by increasing the concentration of stress. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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