Abstract

Equinus contracture of the ankle due to a tight Gastrocnemius has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of foot and ankle conditions. There are numerous described procedures for release of the Gastrocnemius such as the Strayer procedure.

Our indications for release are in patients with a symptomatic forefoot and an equinus contracture of 5 degrees or more in extension as defined by the Silfverskiöld test. The release is usually combined with a reconstructive procedure. The advantages of our technique are its simplicity, excellent visualisation of the tendon and sural nerve, good wound healing and patient comfort post-operatively.

The procedure can be performed without tourniquet. A 2.5cm incision is made over the medial calf, just distal to the Gastrocnemius muscle indentation. The deep fascia is incised and the edge of the tendon can be visualised. Blunt digital dissection is performed on either side of the tendon to develop a plane. A metal Cusco speculum is inserted to visualise the full width of the tendon. The tenotomy is performed starting medially and the last 5mm of the lateral tendon is left uncut. This reduces the chance of iatrogenic injury to the nerve. The tendon bridge can be left if correction is sufficient, otherwise passive dorsiflexion of the ankle results in completion. Post-operatively, patients are able to mobilise fully with crutches and passive ankle physiotherapy is commenced immediately.

We performed 22 MAGS procedures in 17 patients. There were no Sural nerve injuries and no wound complications. All patients were delighted with cosmesis. Average pre-operative equinus contracture with the leg extended was 18 degrees. Average intra-operative correction of 24 degrees was obtained and at 3 months follow-up, all patients were able to dorsiflex past neutral.