Introduction: Full thickness rotator cuff tears are a common cause of shoulder pain and disability. While the role of the rotator cuff seems to be well known, the clinical significance of the biceps tendon for shoulder function has still been a subject of controversy. The aim of this study was to evaluate differences between tenodesis or tenotomy in simultaneous rotator cuff repair.
Methods: For this retrospective study 53 consecutive patients (25f/28m, Ø age 58 years) undergoing arthroscopic double row rotator cuff reconstruction and suture bridge repair were included. The LHB was treated with tenodesis (n = 24) or tenotomy (n = 29). Clinical examination was carried out for all patients after an average of 34 months (range 27–38) following arthroscopic surgery. The Constant score, level of pain, range of motion in flexion and abduction, and isometric force for the operated and healthy shoulder in flexion and abduction were recorded.
Results: Patients in the tenodesis and tenotomy group reached similar good result regarding the Constant score (86.6 ± 11.9 vs. 81.3 ± 12.2; P = 0.120), pain (median 0, range 0–8 vs. Median 0, range 0–10; P = 0.421), and range of motion (flexion: median 180°, range 90°–180° vs. median 180°, range 90°–180°; P = 0.833; abduction: median 180°, range 90°–180° vs. median 180°, range 120°–180°; P = 0.472). Postoperative popeye sign was found only in one patient (1.9 %). At the time of postoperative follow-up, no patient reported cramping of the biceps. Isometric forces in abduction of the tenotomy group (mean 4.7 ± 2.9 kg; maximum 5.5 ± 2.8 kg) was significant lower compared to the tenodesis group (mean 6.6 ± 3.0 kg, P = 0.019; maximum 7.7 ± 2.9 kg, P = 0.007) and compared to healthy shoulders (mean 6.1 ± 3.0 kg P = 0.004; maximum 7.4 ± 3.1 kg, P = 0.001), all other measurements were similar.
Conclusion: According to our results arthroscopic biceps tenodesis and tenotomy are valuable procedures in simultaneous rotator cuff repair regarding function, pain, and range of motion. However, the tenotomy group showed reduced strength in abduction.
Level of evidence: Level IV, retrospective case series.