Surgical repair of acute and chronic pectoralis major tendon rupture: clinical and ultrasound outcomes at a mean follow-up of 5 years

Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2015 Jan;25(1):91-8. doi: 10.1007/s00590-014-1451-y. Epub 2014 Apr 10.


Background: Pectoralis major (PM) tendon rupture is an uncommon injury whose incidence has risen in recent decades mainly as a result of the increasing number of sports-practising individuals. This study evaluates clinical and ultrasound (US) outcomes after surgical repair of acute and chronic PM tendon rupture.

Materials and methods: Twelve men with PM tendon rupture (9 right and 3 left shoulders) were enrolled. Mean age was 34.6 years, and mean follow-up was 60 months (range 12-108). Rupture was diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging. Eight patients underwent direct tendon repair (acute group) and 4 had allograft reconstruction (chronic group). Pain, range of motion, strength recovery and return to sports were assessed. Postoperative X-ray and US scans were obtained in all patients. Final outcomes were graded as excellent, good, fair or poor. Isometric strength in adduction/abduction, flexion, internal rotation (IR) and external rotation was recorded.

Results: There were 9 excellent and 3 good outcomes. A comparative strength assessment failed to show significant differences in any plane. Mean strength was not significantly different between affected and unaffected arm. Slight but significantly lower strength in IR with the arm adducted (p = 0.0306) was found in chronic patients. On US, all PM tendons appeared to be anatomically intact and continuous with the humerus.

Discussion: Prompt surgical repair ensures satisfactory outcomes in patients with complete PM rupture; however, delayed allograft repair provides good results with only slight strength impairment. Fresh insights are provided on the role of US in evaluating PM anatomy and tendon attachment to bone.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Pectoralis Muscles / injuries*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rupture / complications
  • Rupture / diagnostic imaging
  • Rupture / surgery
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / complications
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / diagnostic imaging
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / surgery
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Tendon Injuries / complications
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Tendons / transplantation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography