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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Jul;19(5):645-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2010.01.015. Epub 2010 Apr 18.

Distal biceps tendon tears in women.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.



Is the presentation and outcome of surgical treatment of distal biceps tendon tears different in women than men?


From 1999 to 2008, 15 cases of distal biceps tendon tears in 13 female patients were treated surgically at a single institution. Mean age was 63 years (range, 48-79 years). A retrospective review evaluated patient presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. Postoperative outcomes were assessed by physical examination, a patient satisfaction survey, the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) elbow assessment form, and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire.


Two-thirds of the tears were in the dominant arm, of which 7 resulted from a single injury, and 8 reported insidious onset of symptoms. All patients presented with pain in the antecubital fossa. A distinct cystic mass was palpable in 6. Of the 15 cases, 13 were partially detached, 1 was completely detached, and 1 was weakly attached. Fourteen regained full strength, and all had nearly complete range of motion. Mean follow-up was 46 months (range, 2-117 months). Eleven completed a postoperative patient satisfaction survey, ASES elbow, and DASH questionnaire. Mean scores were 95 (range, 58-100) for ASES and 7 (range, 0-43) for DASH. The only complication was a transient lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve sensory palsy.


Distal biceps tendon tears in women present at an advanced age with no history of an acute injury. They are frequently associated with a cystic mass and have a predominance of partial tears.


Distal biceps tendon tears in women present differently than in men. The tears are rarely complete and they respond well to surgical repair.

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