The distal triceps tendon footprint and a biomechanical analysis of 3 repair techniques

Am J Sports Med. 2010 May;38(5):1025-33. doi: 10.1177/0363546509358319. Epub 2010 Mar 3.


Background: Anatomic repair of tendon ruptures is an important goal of surgical treatment. There are limited data on the triceps brachii insertion, footprint, and anatomic reconstruction of the distal triceps tendon.

Hypothesis: An anatomic repair of distal triceps tendon ruptures more closely imitates the preinjury anatomy and may result in a more durable repair.

Study design: Descriptive and controlled laboratory studies.

Methods: The triceps tendon footprint was measured in 27 cadaveric elbows, and a distal tendon rupture was created. Elbows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 repair groups: cruciate repair group, suture anchor group, and anatomic repair group. Biomechanical measurement of load at yield and peak load were measured. Cyclic loading was performed for a total of 1500 cycles and displacement measured.

Results: The average bony footprint of the triceps tendon was 466 mm2. Cyclic loading of tendons from the 3 repair types demonstrated that the anatomic repair produced the least amount of displacement when compared with the other repair types (P < .05). Load at yield and peak load were similar for all repair types (P > .05).

Conclusion: The triceps bony footprint is a large area on the olecranon that should be considered when repairing distal triceps tendon ruptures. Anatomic repair of triceps tendon ruptures demonstrated the most anatomic restoration of distal triceps ruptures and showed statistically significantly less repair-site motion when cyclically loaded.

Clinical relevance: Anatomic repair better restores preinjury anatomy compared with other types of repairs and demonstrates less repair-site motion, which may play a role in early postoperative management.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elbow Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Elbow Joint / injuries
  • Elbow Joint / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Rupture / surgery
  • Suture Techniques
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology