Intramedullary Unicortical Button and All-Suture Anchors Provide Similar Maximum Strength for Onlay Distal Biceps Tendon Repair


      To evaluate the biomechanical profile of onlay distal biceps repair with an intramedullary unicortical button versus all-suture anchors under cyclic loading and maximal load to failure.


      Twenty paired fresh-frozen human cadaveric elbows were randomized to onlay distal biceps repair with either a single intramedullary button or with two 1.35-mm all-suture anchors. A 1.3-mm high tensile strength tape was used in a Krackow stitch to suture the tendons in both groups. Specimens and repair constructs were loaded for 3,000 cycles and then loaded to failure. Maximum load to failure, mode of failure, and construct elongation were recorded.


      Mean (± standard deviation) maximum load to failure for the unicortical intramedullary button and all-suture anchor repairs were 503.23 ± 141.77 N and 537.33 ± 262.13 N (P = .696), respectively. Mean maximum displacement after 3,000 cycles (± standard deviation) was 4.17 ± 2.05 mm in the button group and 2.06 ± 1.05 mm in the suture anchor group (P = .014). Mode of failure in the button group was suture tape rupture in 7 specimens, failure at the tendon–suture interface in 2 specimens, and button pullout in 1 specimen. Anchor pullout was the mode of failure in all suture anchor specimens. There were no tendon ruptures or radial tuberosity fractures in either group.


      This study demonstrates that onlay distal biceps repair with 2 all-suture anchors has similar maximum strength to repair with an intramedullary button and that both are viable options for fixation.

      Clinical Relevance

      All-suture anchors and unicortical intramedullary button have similar maximum strength at time zero. Both constructs provide suitable fixation for onlay distal biceps repair.
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