Objective: The study aimed to assess tendon thickness in patients with chronic occupational lead exposure by using ultrasonography.
Methods: Twenty-seven male workers (mean age 32.9 ± 6.2 years, range 25–44 years) with occupational lead exposure and 27 age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched healthy male subjects (mean age 33.1 ± 5.6 years, range 25–44 years) were enrolled. Ultrasonographic measurements were obtained from the supraspinatus and Achilles tendons by using a linear probe (5–10 MHz).
Results: Mean Achilles tendon values at long axis (p = 0.034) and tendon cross-sectional area (p = 0.013) were significantly smaller in the lead-exposed group than the control group. On the other hand, no significant difference was found regarding the thickness of the supraspinatus tendon (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Our preliminary results imply that subjects with occupational lead exposure have smaller Achilles tendons than healthy subjects. Chronic lead exposure may affect the tendons due to reduction of collagen synthesis. Further studies are definitely needed to confirm our initial findings.