Re-rupture rate of primarily repaired distal biceps tendon injuries

John W Hinchey, Jessica G Aronowitz, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Bernard F Morrey
Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 2014, 23 (6): 850-4

BACKGROUND: Distal biceps tendon rupture is a common injury, and primary repair results in excellent return of function and strength. Complications resulting from distal biceps tendon repairs are well reported, but the incidence of re-ruptures has never been investigated.

METHODS: A search of the Mayo Clinic's Medical/Surgical Index was performed, and all distal biceps tendon repairs from January 1981 through May 2009 were identified. All patients who completed 12 months or more of follow-up were included. All charts were reviewed and patients contacted as necessary to identify a re-rupture. We also investigated the situation causing the re-rupture.

RESULTS: We identified a total of 190 distal biceps tendon ruptures that underwent repair and met our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of the 190 repairs, 172 (90.5%) were performed by the Mayo modification of the Boyd-Anderson 2-incision technique. Bilateral ruptures occurred in 13 patients (7.3%). Six primary ruptures (3.2%) occurred in women, 4 of the 6 being partial ruptures. Partial ruptures were found to be statistically more common than complete ruptures in women (P = .05). We identified 3 re-ruptures (1.5%), all occurring within 3 weeks of the index surgery.

CONCLUSION: The re-rupture rate after primary repair of the distal biceps tendon is low at 1.5% and occurs within 3 weeks of index repair. This appears to be due to patient compliance and excessive force placed on repairs. We also found the incidence of women who sustain a distal biceps tendon tear to be 3.2%, with partial tears being statistically more common than complete ruptures.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, case series, treatment study

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