Biceps tenotomy versus tenodesis: clinical outcomes.

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PURPOSE: We present a systematic review of the current literature regarding the use of the 2 most common surgical treatments for lesions of the long head of the biceps brachii, tenotomy or tenodesis. Currently, there is no consensus management in the literature because most studies lack high levels of evidence.

METHODS: PubMed was systematically reviewed for eligible articles relating to biceps tenotomy or tenodesis. Level I to IV evidence and English-language studies reporting on the clinical outcomes of these 2 procedures were included. The primary clinical outcome measurements for each study were determined and were normalized and reported as the percentage of "excellent/good" versus "poor" results based on criteria laid out in each study.

RESULTS: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. All articles reviewed were of Level IV evidence, except for one Level II prospective cohort study.(10) All studies, a total of 433 tenodesis procedures resulted in an excellent/good outcome in 74% of patients, with an 8% rate of cosmetic deformity. A total of 699 tenotomy procedures resulted in an excellent/good outcome in 77% of patients, with a 43% occurrence of cosmetic deformity. Postoperative bicipital pain was found in 43 of 226 cases (19%) of tenotomy and 18 of 74 cases (24%) of tenodesis. The 4 studies that compared the procedures directly did not show any significant clinical differences between the groups other than a cosmetic deformity being present more frequently after tenotomy.

CONCLUSIONS: Tenotomy and tenodesis have comparably favorable results in the literature, with the only major difference being a higher incidence of cosmetic deformity with biceps tenotomy. However, there is currently no consensus regarding the use of tenotomy versus tenodesis for the treatment of lesions of the long head of the biceps brachii. The lack of prospective, randomized trials limits our ability to recommend 1 technique over the other. There is a great need for controlled trials to investigate the differences between these 2 procedures. Individual patient factors and needs should guide the surgeon on which procedure to use.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of Level IV studies.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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