The severity of the long head biceps tendinopathy in patients with chronic rotator cuff tears: Macroscopic versus microscopic results

Po Ting Wu, I. Ming Jou, Cheng Chang Yang, Chii Jeng Lin, Chyun Yu Yang, Fong Chin Su, Wei Ren Su

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study investigated the histopathology of the long head of biceps (LHB) tendon and correlated the findings with the macroscopic appearances of the LHB and the size of rotator cuff tears (RCTs) in patients with chronic RCTs. Methods: We compared biopsy specimens from LHBs in 34 patients with chronic RCTs and grossly normal LHBs in 8 patients undergoing shoulder hemiarthroplasty (controls). Duration of preoperative symptoms, the severity of RCTs, and macroscopic appearance of LHBs were recorded, classified, and compared with the histologic grading and apoptosis index of terminal deoxynucleotide transferase-mediated biotin-deoxy uridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assays of LHBs. Results: In the RCT group, there were 8 partial-thickness tears with 5 macroscopic LHB lesions, 12 full-thickness tears with 8 macroscopic LHB lesions, and 14 massive tears with 13 macroscopic LHB lesions. There were 6 LHB subluxations. However, the macroscopic grading and the symptom duration were not correlated with the severity of the histology. In patients with massive tears, no matter what the macroscopic appearance of the LHB, the proportion of end-stage (grade 4) histologic LHB tendinopathy significantly increased (85.7%, P<.05) compared with patients with other types of RCTs. There was a consistently high incidence of advanced LHB histology (grade 3 or higher) in each classification of RCTs (75.0%-100.0%). The 8 patients in the control group showed milder histopathology (grade 1 or 2). The apoptosis index significantly increased as the tendinopathy progressed (P<.05). Conclusions: The macroscopic pathology of LHB may not fully reflect the severity of tendinopathy, and the coexisting size of RCTs plays a role in the severity of LHB tendinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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