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Is Z Division of the Achilles Tendon always Necessary in Wide Exposure of the Back of the Distal Tibia and Ankle Joint? Report of a preliminary investigation
Background: In posterior approach to the back of tibia and ankle, mere retraction of the Achilles tendon can expose the operation site but when this exposure is not
enough, Z division of the Achilles tendon is recommended in literature. The main objective of the study is to find out if Z division of the Achilles tendon is always necessary in
posterior approach to the back of tibia and ankle for direct vision of the back of distal tibia, exploration of bones and joints of the posterior aspect of the ankle joint.
Method: From 15/12/1997 to 30/12/2006 sixteen patients required surgical management of distal tibia fractures involving articular surfaces. Posterior approach with
Achilles tendon division was indicated for satisfactory access to the back of tibia and ankle. In equal number of these patients division of the Achilles tendon was either by
Z or longitudinal divisions. Intra and post operative assessment of both types of Achilles tendon division was done.
Results: Longitudinal division of the Achilles tendon had advantages and should be preferred. Operation time, period of post- operative pain and cast immobilization
were brief. There was full range of motion of the ankle joint after removal of cast.
Conclusion: When division of the Achilles tendon is indicated for direct vision of the posterior aspect of the distal of tibia and ankle joint, Z division is not necessary. A good knowledge of anatomy and experience makes the procedure easier and quicker.
Keywords: Achilles Tendon, Z Division, Longitudinal Division
Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (2) 2008: pp. 181-183