Primary repair of retracted distal biceps tendon ruptures in extreme flexion

Mark E. Morrey, Matthew P. Abdel, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Bernard F. Morrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background: Distal biceps tendon ruptures may have tendinous retraction, making primary repair difficult and calling into question the need for graft reconstruction. The decision for when to primarily fix or augment high-flexion repairs has not been addressed. We hypothesized high-flexion repairs would have good outcomes without graft augmentation. The purpose of this study was to examine allograft use and outcomes of distal biceps tendon ruptures requiring repair in greater than 60° of flexion. Methods: This was a retrospective case-control study 188 distal biceps tendon repairs; of these, 19 chronic and 4 acute cases were identified with repairs of >60° of flexion using a 2-incision technique. Graft need, complications, and Mayo Elbow Performance Score to assess function, were examined with a record review. Patients were surveyed regarding return to work and subjective satisfaction. A control group matched for surgeon, chronicity, and age, but without a high-flexion repair, was compared with cases by using the Student paired t test. Results: Graft augmentation was used in 1 patient with poor tendon quality. The Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 100 for all 23 patients, with extension/flexion range of motion from 3° to 138°. All were subjectively "very satisfied/satisfied," with full work return, yet 3 reported mild fatigability. There were 4 complications: 3 transient lateral antebrachial cutaneous neurapraxias and 1 rerupture at the myotendinous junction after retrauma. Differences between cases and controls were not statistically significant. Conclusion: Contracted distal biceps tendons may be reliably reattached to their anatomic insertion with up to 90° of elbow flexion. This lessens the need for reconstruction in such circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-685
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Allograft reconstruction
  • Chronic biceps rupture
  • Distal biceps tendon repair
  • High-flexion repair
  • Outcomes
  • Tendon retraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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