Anatomic reattachment of the distal biceps tendon is well established but bears the risk of complications including loss of motion and nerve damage. We questioned whether nonanatomic repair by tenodesis to the brachialis muscle is able to accomplish similar results with less risk. We compared the results of anatomic repair with suture anchors (n = 6) with the results of nonanatomic repair (n = 8). Anatomic reattachment of the biceps tendon can restore full power of flexion in most cases as determined by isokinetic muscle tests (mean, 96.8% compared with the contralateral side). Nonanatomic repair also restores flexion strength to a mean of 96%. Supination power averaged 91% after anatomic repair. Supination strength after nonanatomic repair did not improve in 4 of 8 patients (42%-56% of the uninjured arm). The other 4 patients were able to produce 80% to 150% of the strength of the contralateral side. Major complications such as radioulnar synostosis or motor nerve damage were not encountered in either group. Heterotopic ossification was seen in 4 cases after reinsertion to the tuberosity. One of these patients was not satisfied with the procedure because of anterior elbow pain, even at rest. After tenodesis to the brachialis, one patient was unsatisfied because of considerable weakness. We concluded that major complications after anatomic repair are rare but must not be ignored. Tenodesis of the distal biceps tendon is a safe alternative procedure. We inform our patients about the benefits and risks of anatomic and nonanatomic repair as well as those of nonoperative treatment. The decision concerning the type of therapy best suited for an individual patient should be made on an informed consent basis.

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