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Free Gracilis Tendon Graft for Reconstruction of Chronic Tears of the Achilles Tendon
Nicola Maffulli, MD, MS, PhD, FRCS(Orth)1; Filippo Spiezia, MD2; Vittorino Testa, MD3; Giovanni Capasso, MD4; Umile Giuseppe Longo, MD, MSc2; Vincenzo Denaro, MD2
1 Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Mile End Hospital, 275 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DG, England. E-mail address: n.maffulli@qmul.ac.uk
2 Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Campus Biomedico University, Via Alvaro del Portillo, 200, 00128 Trigoria, Rome, Italy.
3 Department of Sports Medicine, Olympic Center, Via dei Goti 84012, Agri (SA), Italy
4 Second University of Naples Medical School, First Institute of Orthopaedics, Via de Crecchio 4, 80100, Napoli, Italy
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Investigation performed at Queen Mary University of London, London, England

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 May 16;94(10):906-910. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00869
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Chronic tears of the Achilles tendon with a tendon gap exceeding 6 cm are a surgical challenge. The purpose of this study is to report the long-term results of reconstruction of such chronic Achilles tendon ruptures with use of a free autologous gracilis tendon graft.


Twenty-one patients underwent reconstruction of a chronic rupture of the Achilles tendon. Fifteen patients were available for clinical and functional assessment on the basis of anthropometric measurements, isometric strength testing, and the Achilles Tendon Total Rupture Score after a mean duration of follow-up of 10.9 years (range, eight to twelve years).


All fifteen patients were able to walk on the tiptoes, and no patient used a heel lift or walked with a visible limp. At an average of 10.9 years of follow-up, the maximum calf circumference of the operatively treated leg remained substantially decreased and the operatively treated limb was significantly weaker than the contralateral, normal limb. Two patients had developed tendinopathy of the contralateral Achilles tendon, one had developed tendinopathy of the reconstructed tendon, and one had ruptured the contralateral Achilles tendon eight years after the index tear.


The long-term results of treatment of chronic tears of the Achilles tendon with free gracilis tendon grafting showed that patients retained good functional results despite permanently impaired ankle plantar flexion strength and decreased calf circumference.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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