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Revision 4 for 'Achilles tendon tear'

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Achilles tendon tear

Typically, in a young 'normal' individual, the Achilles tendon ruptures in the 'critical zone', a region of relative watershed hypovascularity 2-6cm proximal to insertion. Due to sports related trauma, especially squash and basketball, males ore well over represented (M:F 5:1 - 6:1). Predisposing condidions include: diabetes mellitus; systemic inflamatory illnesses (e.g. RA, SLE); repeated microtrauma; gout; use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Plain film shows soft tissue swelling and obliteration of pre-Achilles fat pad (Kager's triangle).

MRI appearances vary:

  • partial thickness tear shows high signal on long TR, and tendon swelling to >7mm AP
  • full-thickness tear shows a tendinous gap filled with edema or blood
  • complete rupture shows retraction of tendon ends

When a plantaris muscle is present then its tendon is usually spared due to its more anterior insertion on the calcaneum. (see Case 1)


  • Type 1 Partial ruptures <= 50%
  • Type 2 Complete rupture with tendinous gap <= 3 cm
  • Type 3 Complete rupture with tendinous gap 3 to 6 cm
  • Type 4 Complete rupture with defect of > 6 cm (neglected ruptures)

see also:

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