Anatomic and radiographic comparison of arthroscopic suprapectoral and open subpectoral biceps tenodesis sites

Am J Sports Med. 2013 Dec;41(12):2919-24. doi: 10.1177/0363546513503812. Epub 2013 Sep 20.


Background: Arthroscopic suprapectoral and open subpectoral surgical techniques are both commonly utilized approaches for proximal biceps tenodesis of the long head of the biceps brachii. A central limitation to the widespread use of an arthroscopic approach for biceps tenodesis is that the tendon may be tenodesed too proximally in the bicipital groove, leading to persistent pain and tendinopathy. Purpose/

Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to determine the in vivo tenodesis location using arthroscopic suprapectoral and open subpectoral techniques for proximal biceps tenodesis in relation to clinically pertinent anatomic and radiographic landmarks. The null hypothesis was that arthroscopic suprapectoral biceps tenodesis would not be significantly different in terms of the location from open subpectoral biceps tenodesis.

Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: A total of 20 matched pairs of cadaveric shoulder specimens were randomized such that within each pair, 1 shoulder underwent a standard open subpectoral biceps tenodesis and the other underwent an arthroscopic suprapectoral tenodesis. Limited dissection and exposure of the surgical tunnel site and reference landmarks were subsequently performed, and anteroposterior and lateral radiographs were obtained. Direct measurements were performed anatomically using a digital caliper and radiographically using picture archiving and communication system (PACS) software from the proximal lip of the humeral tunnel to regional landmarks.

Results: Both techniques were able to place the humeral tunnel distal to the bicipital groove in all specimens. On average, the open subpectoral approach placed the tunnel 2.2 cm distal to the arthroscopic suprapectoral approach.

Conclusion: The arthroscopic suprapectoral biceps tenodesis technique used in this study consistently placed the tenodesis tunnel distal to the bicipital groove, which may allay concerns about the bicipital groove as a pain source after this procedure.

Clinical relevance: This anatomic study provides new information on tunnel placement in 2 biceps tenodesis techniques. In addition, it provides clinically relevant anatomic and radiographic guidelines using clinically pertinent landmarks. This information may be useful in preoperative planning, intraoperative technique, and postoperative assessment of both open subpectoral and arthroscopic suprapectoral biceps tenodesis.

Keywords: arthroscopic tenodesis; biceps brachii; subpectoral tenodesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm / diagnostic imaging
  • Arm / surgery*
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Bone Screws
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humerus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humerus / surgery*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Radiography
  • Shoulder / diagnostic imaging
  • Shoulder / surgery*
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendons / surgery*
  • Tenodesis / methods*