Operated and uninjured Achilles tendons show different loading patterns: a shear wave tensiometry study.

Schneebeli, Alessandro and Barbero, Marco and Falla, Deborah and Testa, Enrique and Riegger, Martin and Sangiorgio, Alessandro and Cescon, Corrado (2023) Operated and uninjured Achilles tendons show different loading patterns: a shear wave tensiometry study. In: Giornata della Ricerca e dell’Innovazione in Medicina Umana della Svizzera italiana.

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Introduction: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to test if shear wave tensiometry is able to detect AT loading changes between a surgically managed AT after rupture and the unaffected contralateral tendon. Our secondary aims were to evaluate differences in mechanical properties when measured with myotonometry and morphological properties of the tendons measured with ultrasound imaging. Methods: Twenty-one patients with surgically treated Achilles tendon rupture were investigated from 1 to 4 years after surgery. Tendon load was measured using a shear wave tensiometer composed of an array of four accelerometers fixed on the tendon. Shear wave speed along the Achilles tendon was evaluated at different ankle torque for both the operated and the unaffected side. Mechanical properties of the tendons were evaluated using MyotonPRO and morphological properties using ultrasound imaging. Results: Friedman test showed a significant shear wave speed difference between sides at every ankle joint torque (p<0.05) with a large effect size for the lowest ankle torque and small to medium effect sizes for higher ankle torque. Stiffness, thickness, and cross-sectional area of the operated tendon remain significatively higher compared to the unaffected side. Conclusion: Shear wave tensiometry can precisely detect differences between operated and unaffected AT during a standardized loading procedure. The shear wave speed along the operated tendon, as well as the mechanical and morphological properties, remains higher in the long-term after a rupture. This is the first step towards the implementation of shear wave tensiometry in clinical settings with promising results.

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