There are several methods for the refixation of the distal biceps tendon which show a variable complication rate. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the clinical outcome and complication rate after distal biceps repair in cortical button technique.

Clinical results, complications, strength of elbow flexion and supination and radiological evidence of heterotopic ossification in patients reporting persistent pain were evaluated in 27 male patients after an average of 36.1 month following distal biceps tendon repair in cortical button technique.

The mean Mayo elbow performance score was 95.9 (SD 11.9), the mean disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand score was 1.9 (SD 4.9) and the mean American shoulder and elbow surgeons (ASES) score was 94.6 (SD 11.6). The mean flexion and supination strength of the involved side relative to the uninvolved side was 91.7 % (SD 12.6) and 87.8 % (SD 15.9). Nine patients had 14 different complications including four transient lesions of the posterior interosseous nerve, two persistent lesions of the superficial branch of the radial nerve, one symptomatic massive heterotopic ossification and one disengaged cortical button. Three patients had six revisions. Patients with complications had a significantly lower relative supination strength, Mayo elbow performance score, ASES score, pain on VAS (p <  0.05 each) and satisfaction (p = 0.005).

As described for other techniques there is a high complication rate of distal biceps tendon repair in cortical button technique which resulted in inferior functional results and satisfaction. Surgeons treating patients with distal biceps tendon rupture should know the specific complications and know how to avoid them.

Case series with no comparison group, Level IV.

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