Objective: The present work is aimed at analysing ultrasound findings in patients with distal biceps brachii tendon (DBBT) injuries to assess the sensitivity of ultrasound in detecting the different forms of injury, and to compare ultrasound results with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and surgical results.
Materials and methods: A total of 120 patients with traumatic DBBT injuries examined between 2011 and 2015 were analysed. We compared ultrasound results with MRI results when surgery was not indicated and with MRI and surgical results when surgery was indicated.
Results: For major DBBT injuries (complete tears and high-grade partial tears), the concordance study between exploration methods and surgical results found that ultrasound presented a slight statistically significant advantage over MRI (ultrasound: κ = 0.95-very good-95% CI 0.88 to 1.01, MRI: κ = 0.63-good-95% CI 0.42 to 0.84, kappa difference p < 0.01). Minor injuries, in which most tendon fibres remain intact (tendinopathies, elongations and low-grade partial tears), are the most difficult to interpret, as ultrasound and MRI reports disagreed in 12 out of 39 cases and no surgical confirmation could be obtained.
Conclusions: Based on present results and previous MRI classifications, we establish a traumatic DBBT injury ultrasound classification. The sensitivity and ultrasound-surgery correlation results in the diagnosis of major DBBT injuries obtained in the present study support the recommendation that ultrasound can be used as a first-line imaging modality to evaluate DBBT injuries.
Keywords: Distal biceps tendon; External bicipital aponeurosis; Imaging technique; Injury classification; Tendon retraction; Ultrasonography.