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Practice patterns in the care of acute Achilles tendon ruptures: Is there an association with level I evidence?


Aims — To determine whether the findings from a landmark Canadian trial assessing the optimal management of acute rupture of the Achilles tendon influenced the practice patterns of orthopaedic surgeons in Ontario, Canada.

Materials and Methods — Health administrative databases were used to identify Ontario residents ≥ 18 years of age with an Achilles tendon rupture from April 2002 to March 2014. The rate of surgical repair (per 100 cases) was calculated for each calendar quarter. A time-series analysis was used to determine whether changes in the rate were chronologically related to the dissemination of results from a landmark trial published in February 2009. Non-linear spline regression was then used independently to identify critical time-points of change in the surgical repair rate to confirm the findings.

Results — A total of 29 531 patients sustained an Achilles tendon rupture during the study period. Consistently, around 21 out of every 100 cases underwent surgical repair up to the first quarter of 2010. However, by the first quarter of 2014, only 6.5 cases per 100 had surgery. A statistically significant decrease in the rate of surgical repair was observed within one year of the presentation of landmark trial results in 2009 (p < 0.001). July 2009 was independently identified as a critical time at which the surgical repair rate began to significantly decline (p < 0.001). The dissemination of trial results was associated with a significant drop in the rate of surgical repair at non-teaching hospitals (p = 0.001).

Conclusion — The current study demonstrates that large, well-designed randomised trials, have the potential to encourage significant changes in the practice patterns of orthopaedic surgeons.



Sheth U, Wasserstein D, Jenkinson R, Moineddin R, Kreder H, Jaglal S. Bone Joint J. 2017; 99-B(12):1629-36. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

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