PURPOSE: We describe the results of 64 patients who underwent treatment for acute distal biceps tendon rupture using a single incision and suture anchors. The purpose of the study is to evaluate if this method is reliable and if it can reduse the risk of ectopic bone formation or synostosis.
Methods: 64 patients underwent surgical repair for acute rupture of the distal biceps tendon, using suture anchors and a single incision. All performed by 1 surgeon. We had 63 male and 1 female with a mean age of 48 years (range 30–59). Our operative technique consisted of an “S”-shaped anterior incision centered over the antecubital fossa. After identification and protection of the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve, we exposed and mobilized the ruptured biceps tendon. The distal portion of the tendon was debrided and the radial tuberosity gently decorticated. A 4 stranded suture was then inserted into the tuberosity. The tendon was advanced to bone and the sutures were tied using the modification of Kessler’s technique, holding the elbow in 90° of flexion. The post-op protocol was a posterior splint for 10 days (in 90° of flexion and 20° of supination), a dynamic hinged-extension block brace in 45° for 3 weeks and progressive advancement to full extension in 3 more weeks. Strengthening exercises were permitted after 3 months.
Results: All acute tears (<3 weeks) were repaired anatomically. The follow-up period was 39 months (range 18m – 11years). Objective data consisted of ROM (range of motion) of the elbow, flexion and supination strength were measured by a BTE Work Stimulator. The ROM was normal in 54 patients, 10 patients lacked 10° of extension. 51 patients returned to their pre-injury level of activity and within 6 months returned to work. All patients reported pain relief and good recovery of strength and were completely satisfied of the outcome. There were no implant failures, nerve palsies or heterotopic bone formation.
Conclusions: Use of a single incision repair with bone suture anchors provides secure fixation of distal biceps tendon to the radius with minimal volar dissection wich is associated with a minimum risk of synostosis and posterior interosseous nerve injuries. This method is reliable for acute ruptures. Return to normal strength and range of motion can be expected if tendon repair is performed before 3 weeks. The advantages of this method are less dissection for re-attachment of the tendon, less nerve injuries and no ectopic bone formation or synostosis.
Correspondence should be addressed to Ms Larissa Welti, Scientific Secretary, EFORT Central Office, Technoparkstrasse 1, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland