Diagnosis and Treatment of the Biceps-Labral Complex

Abstract

The long head of the biceps tendon (LHBT) is a common source of pathology. The biceps-labral complex (BLC) is the collective anatomic and clinical features shared by the biceps tendon and the superior labrum. LHBT pathology can be caused by inflammation, instability, or trauma. Numerous tests can be performed to determine the existence of biceps tendon and superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) lesions; however, many of these tests do not have high sensitivity and specificity, which limits their clinical utility. Because it is difficult to diagnose both LHBT and SLAP pathology, management strategies are best guided by a strong clinical suspicion and imaging findings on either MRI or ultrasonography. Initial nonsurgical treatment of LHBT and SLAP pathology includes focused physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroid injections. If nonsurgical management fails, surgical techniques for the treatment of LHBT pathology include biceps anchor reattachment (SLAP repair), biceps tenotomy, and biceps tenodesis. Techniques for biceps tenodesis, which can be performed in either an arthroscopic or open manner, include soft-tissue tenodesis, suprapectoral tenodesis, and subpectoral tenodesis. If appropriately managed, patients with LHBT pathology often have excellent clinical outcomes.

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