Outcomes Following Treatment of the Infected Achilles Tendon

Mark W. Bowers, Norman S. Turner, Daniel B. Ryssman, Steven L. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Infection following Achilles tendon surgery is a devastating complication and can be difficult to treat and often leads to poor outcomes. A number of treatments have been described, but there is little information concerning outcomes of these treatments. Our purpose was to evaluate the clinical and functional outcomes of patients who have undergone treatment for an infected Achilles tendon after acute and chronic midsubstance repair. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 20 patients who had undergone surgical treatment for an infected Achilles tendon between 2000 and 2016. The mean follow-up time was 21 months (range, 2-68 months). All patients underwent extensive debridement of the tendon with removal of all infected tissue and foreign material. Soft tissue wound coverage was utilized for large wounds that were not amenable to primary or secondary closure. All patients received culture-specific intravenous (IV) antibiotics for 3 to 6 weeks. Postoperatively, the extremity was immobilized in a splint followed by a cast until the wound was healed. The cast was then replaced with a walking boot and the patients were provided a physical therapy program. Functional outcomes were measured using the Foot and Ankle Ability Measure (FAAM) Activity of Daily Living (ADL) scale. Results: All wounds had healed at the time of last follow-up. Three patients (15%) required an unplanned return to the operating room for repeat debridement. All patients were able to walk without the use of a gait aid. Five patients (25%) required continued use of a boot or brace during ambulation. Fourteen patients participated in the FAAM ADL survey. There were 6 patients lost to follow-up. The average FAAM score was 87 (range, 71.4-100). At last follow-up, most patients reported their overall function as “normal” or “nearly normal.” Eradication of infection and satisfactory functional results can be attained after radical debridement, wound closure, and administration of culture-specific IV antibiotics. Level of Evidence: Level IV, retrospective case series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFoot and Ankle Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • infected Achilles tendon
  • infection
  • outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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