Incidence of Morphologic Changes in Asymptomatic Achilles Tendons in an Active Young Adult Population

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Achilles tendon rupture is often the result of a long-term degenerative process, frequently occurring asymptomatically.

Objective:

To determine the prevalence of asymptomatic Achilles tendinopathy in an active, asymptomatic, young-adult population and to compare these findings across gender.

Design:

Convenience sample, cohort study.

Setting:

Research laboratory

Participants:

A sample of 52 (28 male, 24 female) healthy, active subjects were recruited from the student body at the University of Connecticut. Images of 104 Achilles tendons were made.

Intervention:

Ultrasound images made with a Phillips HD11 with a 15-MHz real-time linear-array transducer were collected on both the longitudinal and transverse axes of the Achilles tendon. Activity level was measured with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form (IPAQ-SF).

Main Outcome Measure:

Presence of ultrasound evidence of Achilles tendinopathy as agreed on by 2 blinded assessors highly skilled in ultrasonography.

Results:

More subjects were categorized as highly active (57.4%) on the IPAQ-SF than moderately active (42.6%). One female and one male subject were found to have ultrasound evidence of asymptomatic Achilles tendinopathy, equaling 3.8% prevalence in this study.

Conclusion:

We found a low prevalence of asymptomatic Achilles tendinopathy in an active, young-adult population. Further work is necessary to identify an optimal group warranting ultrasound screening for asymptomatic tendinopathy.

The authors are with the Kinesiology Dept, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.