BACKGROUND:
Tears of the subscapularis tendon commonly are associated with instability of the long head of the biceps tendon. Standard surgical treatment includes tenodesis or tenotomy of the biceps tendon. However, chronic discomfort from spasms and cosmetic disadvantages have been reported following both procedures, while the potential for functional impairments remains controversial. We investigated the outcome of stabilization of the long head of the biceps tendon in the context of early repair of traumatic tears of the subscapularis tendon.

METHODS:
We performed stabilization of an unstable, structurally intact long head of the biceps tendon in twenty-one patients in the acute phase after a traumatic tear of the subscapularis tendon. The average period from the injury to the surgery was 6.2 weeks. Open tendon stabilization and subscapularis reconstruction were performed with transosseous sutures. The follow-up consisted of clinical examination (with determination of the absolute, age and gender-related, and individual relative Constant scores; clinical evaluation of the long head of the biceps; and subjective determination of shoulder function) and dynamic ultrasound examination.

RESULTS:
The average follow-up period was 28.4 months. The mean absolute Constant score increased from 26.3 points preoperatively to 79.3 points postoperatively (p < 0.01). The mean age and gender-related Constant score improved from 28.0% to 87.0% (p < 0.01). Seven patients showed clinical symptoms consistent with mild biceps tendinopathy. Using dynamic ultrasound examination, we found two cases of recurrent instability (medial subluxation) of the long head of the biceps tendon. Secondary rupture of the long head of the biceps tendon occurred in one patient, twenty-six months after the surgery.

CONCLUSIONS:
The functional outcomes of stabilization of the long head of the biceps tendon in the context of early repair of a traumatic tear of the subscapularis tendon were comparable with the results of tenodesis or tenotomy reported in previous studies. The cosmetic results were superior, and chronic discomfort from spasms was not observed. Stabilization of the tendon of the long head of the biceps can be recommended as a treatment option for selected patients and should be discussed as an alternative to tenodesis or tenotomy, particularly in a young patient.



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