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Functional Brace Feasible for Ruptured Achilles Tendon

Outcomes at nine months after injury did not differ for functional brace compared with plaster cast

MONDAY, Feb. 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Traditional plaster casting is not superior to a functional brace in patients being treated nonoperatively for Achilles tendon rupture, according to a study published in the Feb. 8 issue of The Lancet.

Matthew L. Costa, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned (1:1) U.K. patients (aged ≥16 years) who were being treated non-operatively for a primary Achilles tendon rupture at 39 hospitals to receive either a plaster cast (266 patients) or functional brace (274 patients) for eight weeks. The authors evaluated outcomes at nine months.

The researchers observed no difference in patient-reported Achilles tendon rupture score at nine months post injury (adjusted mean difference, −1.38; 95 percent confidence interval, −4.9 to 2.1; P = 0.44). Additionally, there was no difference noted in the rate of re-rupture of the tendon (6 percent in the plaster cast group and 5 percent in the functional brace group; P = 0.40). The mean total health and personal social care costs were £1,181 and £1,078 for the plaster cast group and the functional brace group, respectively (mean between-group difference, −£103; 95 percent confidence interval, −289 to 84).

“Clinicians may consider the use of early weight-bearing in a functional brace as a safe and cost-effective alternative to plaster casting,” the authors write.

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