Surgical Repair of Distal Triceps Tendon Injuries: Short-term to Midterm Clinical Outcomes and Risk Factors for Perioperative Complications

Orthop J Sports Med. 2019 Apr 30;7(4):2325967119839998. doi: 10.1177/2325967119839998. eCollection 2019 Apr.


Background: Few large-scale series have described functional outcomes after distal triceps tendon repair. Predictors for operative success and a comparative analysis of surgical techniques are limited in the reported literature.

Purpose: To evaluate short-term to midterm functional outcomes after distal triceps tendon repair in a broad patient population and to comparatively evaluate patient-reported outcomes in patients with and without pre-existing olecranon enthesopathy while also assessing for modifiable risk factors associated with adverse patient outcomes and/or revision surgery.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of 69 consecutive patients who underwent surgical repair of distal triceps tendon injuries at a single institution. Demographic information, time from injury to surgery, mechanism of injury, extent of the tear, pre-existing enthesopathy, perioperative complications, and validated patient-reported outcome scores were included in the analysis. Patients with a minimum of 1-year follow-up were included.

Results: The most common mechanisms of injury were direct elbow trauma (44.9%), extension/lifting exercises (20.3%), overuse (17.4%), and hyperflexion or hyperextension (17.4%). Eighteen patients were identified with pre-existing symptomatic enthesopathy, and 51 tears were caused by an acute injury. A total of 36 complete and 33 partial tendon tears were identified. Bone tunnels were most commonly used (n = 30; 43.5%), while direct sutures (n = 23; 33.3%) and suture anchors (n = 13; 18.8%) were also used. Perioperative complications occurred in 21.7% of patients, but no patients experienced a rerupture at the time of final follow-up. No statistically significant relationship was found between patient age (P = .750), degree of the tear (P = .613), or surgical technique employed (P = .608) and the presence of perioperative complications.

Conclusion: Despite the heightened risk of perioperative complications after primary repair of distal triceps tendon injuries, the current series found favorable functional outcomes and no cases of reruptures at short-term to midterm follow-up. Furthermore, age, surgical technique, extent of the tear, and mechanism of injury were not associated with adverse patient outcomes in this investigation. Pre-existing triceps enthesopathy was shown to be associated with increased complication rates.

Keywords: athletic training; elbow; enthesopathy; general sports trauma.