Surgical repair of distal triceps rupture: a systematic review of outcomes and complications

Danny V. Tran, Thomas R. Yetter, Jeremy S. Somerson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Triceps tendon injury is rare and accounts for only 2% of all tendinous injuries. It typically occurs after trauma or physical strain with eccentric loading. Treatment involves surgical repair, commonly with either transosseous bone tunnels or suture anchors. Nonsurgical management is typically reserved for low-demand or high-risk patients, as this is associated with deficits in strength and functional disability. Despite several recent high-quality observational studies that have added to our understanding of outcomes after surgical repair, we are not aware of a systematic review that includes literature published after 2015. In addition, prior reviews did not compare outcomes between different surgical repair methods, particularly transosseous bone tunnel and suture anchor techniques. Methods: This systematic review examines published literature between January 1970 and May 2021 in PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane databases to further examine reported functional outcomes and compare those outcomes between the two surgical repair methods. Results: Our literature search yielded 309 results, of which only 16 met inclusion criteria. At the latest follow-up, the mean Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 4, the mean Quick Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 8, the mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 92, the mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons–Elbow score was 99, the mean modified American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score was 94, the mean Oxford Elbow Score was 43, and the mean isokinetic muscle strength testing was 87%. A very high percentage (95%) of patients reported being satisfied with the repair. Preinjury levels of function were achieved in 92% of patients, and 100% regained at least a score of 4 of 5 for gross muscle strength. Complications occurred in 15% of cases, of which retears accounted for 5%. Subanalysis of cases with reported repair types revealed a significantly higher overall complication rate with transosseous repairs than with suture anchor repairs (18% vs. 8%, P =.008) as well as a higher retear rate in the transosseous repair group (7% vs. 2%, P =.03). Conclusion: Patient-reported outcome measures were favorable for both suture anchor and transosseous tunnel repair methods. Suture anchor repair showed significantly better results with regard to isokinetic strength testing, complication rates, and retear rates. Further study is needed to establish superiority of either technique and cost-efficacy. In light of the evidence supporting greater biomechanical strength and lower clinical rates of failure, surgeons may consider use of a suture anchor technique for repair of distal triceps ruptures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
JournalJSES Reviews, Reports, and Techniques
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Arm injuries
  • Level IV
  • Operative surgical procedures
  • Patient-reported outcome measures
  • Prognostic Study
  • Suture anchors
  • Tendon injuries
  • Transosseous bone tunnel
  • Triceps
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Reviews and References, Medical
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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