The achilles functional index

George A.C. Murrell, Edward G. Lilly, Helen Davies, Thomas M. Best, Richard D. Goldner, Anthony V. Seaber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The literature regarding the management of spontaneous rupture of the Achilles tendon is controversial and confusing. The relative infrequency of the condition in any one center prohibits the completion of well‐designed clinical studies. Many of the disputes could be addressed and innovations tested if an appropriate animal model were available. We present a method for evaluating Achilles tendon function from measurements of the prints, preserved in bromphenol‐blue‐impregnated photocopying paper, of the hindfeet of walking rats. The stimulus for this study was derived from de Medinaceli's method for assessing the functional condition of rat sciatic nerves (de Medinaceli L, Freed WJ, Wyatt RJ: An index of the functional condition of rat sciatic nerve based on measurements made from walking tracks. Exp Neurol 77:634–643, 1982). Four variables were measured from these walking tracks, and comparsions between the damaged (experimental) and intact (normal) side were converted to proportional deficits. The relative contribution of each parameter to the overall deficit was determined by multiple linear regression analysis, and the variables were weighted accordingly to obtain an “Achilles Functional Index” (AFI). A sham operation produced no functional deficit, whereas animals subjected to a 0.5‐cm midsubstance Achilles tendon defect demonstrated a markedly impaired AFI. Animals with repaired transected Achilles tendons also demonstrated a significant, but less severly impaired AFI. The functional deficit in this repair group returned to control values by postoperative day 15, whereas animals with a defect remained impaired at day 15. Furthermore, an excellent correlation was found between the functional recovery and biomechanical properties (ultimate failure load) of the healing tendon (r = 0.94; p < 0.001). In summary, this method provides a relatively inexpensive, sensitive, and reproducible means of assessing the functional performance of the Achilles tendon after injury in the rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-404
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Achilles tendon
  • Functional model
  • Tendon injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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