The long head of the biceps tendon is a frequent pain generator within the shoulder. It is subjected to trauma and wear within the glenohumeral joint and within the intertubercular groove. Tenodesis of this tendon is a common treatment option for patients experiencing biceps tendon related pain. There are several different techniques to perform this procedure. Proximal intra-articular tenodesis can be performed but leaves the tendon within the intertubercular groove. Alternatively, suprapectoral tenodesis can be performed removing the tendon from the bicipital groove and sheath while avoiding conversion to an open procedure. Further, suprapectoral tenodesis limits complications associated with an open distally based incision. Several studies have compared these techniques to tenotomy or open-subpectoral tenodesis. This is the first study to directly compare patient outcomes between intra-articular and suprapectoral bicep tenodeses.
Retrospective review of prospectively collected data on patients undergoing intra-articular or suprapectoral arthroscopic biceps tenodesis from 2010 – 2015. Clinical outcomes were measured at set intervals post-operatively (3 months, 6 months, and 12 months) and compared to pre-operative scores. Outcome measures included short form-12, both physical (PSF) and mental (MSF) component scores, and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score (ASES).
A total of 96 patients were available for this study, 43 had intra-articular tenodesis and 56 had suprapectoral tenodesis. There was no difference in patient-reported outcomes between intra and extra articular biceps tenodesis at 1-year post-operative. There were no significant differences between the two groups at any time point in ASES or MSF scores. At 3-months post-operative, the intra-articular group showed significantly high scores, however there was no difference at 6-months or 1-year. Both groups showed improvement in all outcome measures, however the only significant improvement was seen in the suprapectoral group’s ASES scores. There was found to be no difference in changes for ASES, PSF, or MSF over time between the two groups (p=0.262, p=0.489, and p=0.907 respectively).
This study demonstrates that both intra-articular and surpapectoral techniques are acceptable options for biceps tenodesis. Despite leaving the biceps tendon within the glenohumeral joint and intertubercular groove, the intra-articular technique offers similar improvement in outcome measures to the suprapectoral technique.