Changes in Muscle Morphology Following Gastrocnemius Recession for Achilles Tendinopathy: A Prospective Cohort Imaging Study

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© 2019 The Author(s). Background. The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in posterior compartment muscle volume and intramuscular fat content following gastrocnemius recession in people with Achilles tendinopathy (AT). Methods. Eight patients diagnosed with unilateral recalcitrant AT and an isolated gastrocnemius contracture participated in this prospective cohort study. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed on both limbs of each participant before and 6 months following an isolated gastrocnemius recession. Involved limb muscle volumes and fat fractions (FFs) of the medial gastrocnemius, lateral gastrocnemius, and soleus muscle were normalized to the uninvolved limb. Preoperative to postoperative comparisons were made with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Results. Soleus or lateral gastrocnemius muscle volumes or FFs were not significantly different between study time points. A significant difference was found in medial gastrocnemius muscle volume (decrease; P =.012) and FF (increase; P =.017). Conclusion. A major goal of the Strayer gastrocnemius recession, selective lengthening of the posterior compartment while preserving soleus muscle morphology, was supported. The observed changes isolated to the medial gastrocnemius muscle may reduce ankle plantarflexion torque capacity. Study findings may help inform selection of surgical candidates, refine anticipated outcomes, and better direct postoperative rehabilitation following gastrocnemius recession for AT. Levels of Evidence: Level IV: Prospective cohort study

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Foot and Ankle Specialist

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