Bone and Joint Institute


Management of chronic distal biceps tendon ruptures: primary repair vs. semitendinosus autograft reconstruction

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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery





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© 2019 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees Background: Delayed presentation of distal biceps tendon ruptures can make primary repair difficult, in which case reconstruction using a tendon graft is an option. The aim of this study was to compare outcomes and complications between delayed distal biceps tendon ruptures managed with repair vs. semitendinosus autograft reconstruction. Methods: Nineteen delayed distal biceps tendon rupture cases treated with a tendon reconstruction were compared with 16 delayed primary repair cases (>21 days). The reconstructions were performed using a semitendinosus autograft looped through a transosseous tunnel in the bicipital tuberosity and secured with a Pulvertaft weave to the remnant distal biceps tendon. The patient groups were reviewed and completed functional outcomes testing including range of motion, isometric elbow flexion and supination strength, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand, Patient-Rated Elbow Evaluation, Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation, and Mayo Elbow Performance Index. Results: Mean patient age (49 ± 9 vs. 46 ± 8 years, P = .65) and follow-up (47 ± 25 vs. 45 ± 27 months, P = .45) were similar between delayed primary repair and reconstruction groups. Range of motion (P = .62), supination strength (P = .26), elbow flexion strength (P = .93), Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (P = .08), and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation (P = .22) were not significantly different between groups. The Patient-Rated Elbow Evaluation (P = .02) and Mayo Elbow Performance Index (P = .04), however, were better in the delayed repair group compared with the reconstruction group. Complications were similar between groups (P = .87). Conclusion: Delayed reconstruction of irreparable distal biceps tendon ruptures with semitendinosus autograft produces similar strength, range of motion, and complication rates but slightly worse functional outcome scores compared with delayed primary repair. This suggests that when possible direct repair is preferred, however, if not possible, reconstruction with an autologous tendon graft results in predictably good outcomes.

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