PURPOSE: A rupture of the Achilles tendon may heal in continuity, resulting in a lengthened Achilles tendon. The elongated structure must be shortened to restore effective push off. We report the results of a longitudinal study using Z-shortening of ruptured Achilles tendons that healed in continuity but were elongated. METHODS: Nine patients underwent surgery for elongation of a healed Achilles tendon rupture. All participants were prospectively followed up for two to five years, and final review was performed at 32 ± 14 months from operation. Clinical and functional assessment (anthropometric measurements, isometric strength, postoperative total rupture score) was performed. RESULTS: All patients were able to walk on tiptoes, and no patient used a heel lift or walked with a visible limp. No patient developed clinically evident deep-vein thrombosis or sustained a rerupture. Two patients were managed conservatively following a superficial surgical wound infection. At final review, maximum calf circumference remained significantly decreased in the operated leg. The operated limb was significantly weaker than the nonoperated one. CONCLUSIONS: Managing a healed Achilles tendon rupture using Z-shortening is safe and effective, providing good recovery and early weight bearing and active ankle mobilisation. Such patients should be warned that they are at risk for postoperative complications and that their ankle-plantar flexion strength is likely to be permanently reduced.
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