Biceps Tendon Repair

The biceps muscle is located in front of your upper arm. It helps in bending your elbow as well as rotating your forearm and maintaining stability in the shoulder joint. The biceps muscle has two tendons, one of which attaches to the bone in the shoulder and the other attaches at the elbow. The biceps tendon at the elbow is called the distal biceps tendon. A tear in this tendon will make it difficult for you to move your arm from the palm-down to palm-up position. Once the distal biceps tendon is torn, it cannot regrow back to the bone and heal by itself. Permanent weakness during rotatory movements of the forearm may occur if the tendon is not repaired surgically.

There are several procedures to accomplish reattachment of the distal biceps tendon to the forearm bone. Some techniques require two incisions, while in others, one incision may be sufficient. In some cases, the tendon is reattached using stitches passed through holes drilled in the bone. Sometimes, a small metal implant is used.

Surgical technique

During distal biceps tendon repair, your surgeon makes a small incision over the upper forearm, where the biceps muscle attaches to the radius bone. The torn biceps tendon is brought up through the incision. Then, the radius bone is prepared for tendon reattachment and to promote healing. Two suture anchors are inserted into the bone. These serve as anchorage for the tendon. The sutures from the suture anchors are passed through the tendon in a particular interlocking manner so as to ensure a strong tendon repair.

Postoperative care

After the repair is complete, a hinged elbow brace is applied with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. The brace is removed after 6 weeks. It may take from 6 months to 1 year to regain full strength.

Risks and complications

Complications are rare and may include numbness and weakness in the forearm, the formation of new bone, limited movement and re-tearing.