Incidence Rate and Results of the Surgical Treatment of Pectoralis Major Tendon Ruptures in Active-Duty Military Personnel

Am J Sports Med. 2016 Jul;44(7):1837-43. doi: 10.1177/0363546516637177. Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Background: Pectoralis major tendon ruptures are commonly described as rare injuries affecting men between 20 and 40 years of age, with generally excellent results after surgical repair. However, this perception is based on a relatively small number of case series and prospective studies in the orthopaedic literature.

Purpose: To determine the incidence of pectoralis major tendon ruptures in the active-duty military population and the demographic risk factors for a rupture and to describe the outcomes of surgical treatment.

Study design: Case control study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: We utilized the Military Health System Data Repository (MDR) to identify all active-duty military personnel surgically treated for a pectoralis major tendon rupture between January 2012 and December 2014. Electronic medical records were searched for patients' demographic information, injury characteristics, and postoperative complications and outcomes. Risk factors for a rupture were calculated using Poisson regression, based on population counts obtained from the MDR. Risk factors for a postoperative complication, the need for revision surgery, and the inability to continue with active duty were determined using univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression.

Results: A total of 291 patients met inclusion criteria. The mean patient age was 30.5 years, all patients were male, and the median follow-up period was 18 months. The incidence of injuries was 60 per 100,000 person-years over the study period. Risk factors for a rupture included service in the Army, junior officer or junior enlisted rank, and age between 25 and 34 years. White race and surgery occurring >6 weeks after injury were significant risk factors for a postoperative complication. Among the 214 patients with a minimum of 12 months' clinical follow-up, 95.3% were able to return to military duty. Junior officer/enlisted status was a significant risk factor for failure to return to military duty.

Conclusion: Among military personnel, Army soldiers and junior officer/enlisted rank were at highest risk of pectoralis major tendon ruptures, and junior personnel were at highest risk of being unable to return to duty after surgical treatment. Although increasing time from injury to surgery was not a risk factor for treatment failure or inability to return to duty, it did significantly increase the risk of a postoperative complication.

Keywords: military; pectoralis major tendon rupture; surgical treatment; tendon reconstruction; tendon repair.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Pectoralis Muscles / injuries*
  • Pectoralis Muscles / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture / epidemiology
  • Rupture / surgery*
  • Tendon Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Treatment Failure
  • White People