The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Australian Comedian Nearly Dies From an Achilles Tendon Rupture

Posted by on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

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An Achilles tendon rupture is common, affecting 37.3 per 100,000 people. Treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon can be nonoperative with cast immobilization or surgical. There are potentially life-threatening complications associated with this type of injury. The patient can develop a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which refers to a blood clot forming in a deep vein within the leg. A deadly pulmonary embolism (PE) may occur if that blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. Australian Comedian Shane Jacobson says this nearly happened to him after a recent Achilles rupture injury.

Achilles tendon rupture
Know the symptoms of a blood clot, DVT, and PE if you’ve suffered a snapped Achilles tendon. [Image Source: Pinterest]

What Happened to Shane Jacobson?

Australian Comedian Shane Jacobson was keen to promote his new film, Brother’s Nestin Australia, but doctors told him he could die if he got on a plane. He told FIVEaa Radio he snapped his Achilles unexpectedly while dancing and celebrating Daniel Ricciardo’s Grand Prix win in Monaco. The hospital initially misdiagnosed the injury as a bad sprain, despite Jacobson’s description of the injury as “a big bang.” After flying back home, two blood clots were discovered in his leg, along with the snapped Achilles. Despite his near-death experience, the 48-year-old is planning a bus tour around the country to appease his fans.

Who Is at Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis After Achilles Tendon Rupture?

The overall risk of suffering a life-threatening blood clot within three months of Achilles tendon rupture ranges from 6.3% to 34%. Nearly all patients with DVT and PE are over 40 years of age. It is believed declines in muscle strength and metabolic changes predispose older patients to DVT and PE. Past history of circulatory problems and obesity may also be linked, but research has yet to concretely define these potential risks. There is no difference in risk whether patients are treated surgically or non-surgically.

What Are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?

In one case review, a 42-year-old patient had a 30-minute episode of coughing and labored breathing approximately 10 days after his ruptured Achilles surgery. The following day, he felt unwell and missed work. Two days later, he was feeling better and went to his orthopedic follow-up. In the exam room, he suddenly collapsed and became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the hospital when 45 minutes of resuscitation efforts failed. The autopsy revealed massive bilateral acute pulmonary embolus.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism to look out for include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath that worsens with activity
  • Cough (sometimes with blood present)
  • Chest pain that worsens with deep breaths, bending, eating, coughing, or stooping

Patients may also suffer:

  • Leg pain or swelling in the calf
  • Clammy or discolored skin
  • Fever with sweating
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness

What Can Be Done to Prevent DVT or PE After Achilles Tendon Rupture?

Often, podiatric surgeons will prescribe a blood thinner as a preventative oral medication before surgery or a daily injection after surgery to reduce the risk of DVT or PE. The risk increases with bed rest and prolonged immobility, so we like to have patients up and walking in a boot as quickly as possible. You should avoid air travel or long road trips after your surgery. If you must travel, keep hydrated, get up and move every 15-30 minutes, and wear support hose. Compression stockings, pneumatic compression, and leg elevation can all help.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Treatment in NYC

There’s not much we can do to help Mr. Jacobson in Australia, but if you’re in the New York City metro, The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine is here to help. We have all the equipment necessary to diagnose and treat Achilles injury right the first time. If you have any symptoms of pulmonary embolism, seek medical attention immediately, wherever you are. Contact us, today.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.