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Surgical treatment of partial distal biceps tendon ruptures.

PURPOSE: To demonstrate that surgical repair of partial distal biceps tendon ruptures allows return of supination and flexion strength nearly equal to the contralateral side without compromising range of motion.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective study of 17 patients with unilateral partial biceps tendon ruptures who underwent surgical repair between 2003 and 2009, and who returned for further evaluation and strength testing. The follow-up examination included questionnaires, x-rays, strength testing, and range of motion with comparison to the opposite side. We used the Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment work simulator to objectively test isometric and dynamic elbow flexion and forearm supination strength of both extremities.

RESULTS: A total of 17 patients returned for additional testing, 14 of whom had failed nonsurgical treatment. One patient had asymptomatic heterotopic ossification. Two patients reported mild lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve dysesthesias. There was one partial re-rupture 4 years after the original surgery. The second repair consisted of suture anchor fixation; 15 months after re-repair, the patient remains asymptomatic. Average postoperative Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 9 (range, 0-33). One patient had limited pronation (50 degrees degrees). The average isometric and dynamic elbow flexion was 3% and 11% stronger, respectively, compared with the opposite side. Average isometric supination was 6% and average dynamic supination was 10% weaker.

CONCLUSIONS: After surgical treatment of partial distal biceps tendon tears, most patients achieved good return of strength with full motion. Surgical treatment of partial distal biceps tendon tears is a viable option after failed nonsurgical treatment.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.

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