The Long Head of the Biceps Bristow-Bankart Procedure for Anterior Shoulder Instability

Publicado em: 12 de junho de 2020 por Dr. José Carlos Garcia Jr.
Categorias: Trabalhos Científicos - Ombro

The Long Head of the Biceps Bristow-Bankart Procedure for Anterior Shoulder Instability

Author links open overlay panelJose CarlosGarciaJr.M.D., Ph.D.Renan J.BelchiorM.D.Marcelo B.D.MelloM.D.Alvaro M.CardosoJr.M.D.Show more rights and contentUnder a Creative Commons licenseopen access


Surgical procedures to treat anterior shoulder instability are basically split into 2 groups: those for patients with important bone loss and those for patients with no bone loss. However, there is a gray zone between these procedures in which a bone graft would not be needed but bone grafting would result in a desirable improvement in stabilizing mechanisms. We describe a technique based on the triple soft-tissue block, Bankart reconstruction, and long head of the biceps tenodesis at the anterior glenoid rim. The long head of the biceps would add an anterior restrictor by itself, as well as by tensioning the inferior part of the subscapularis.

Anterior shoulder instability remains one of the main issues within shoulder surgery. There are several studies showing that arthroscopic Bankart repair is successful in treating traumatic anterior shoulder instability without bone loss.1 On the other hand, glenoid bone loss greater than 21% to 25% and engaging lesions seem to present better results with bony procedures such as the Bristow and Latarjet procedures,2345 and both techniques present similar results.6

Some authors have also suggested that other predictive factors, such as age at the first episode, sport, and so on, need to be considered when choosing the surgical procedure, whereas others have suggested that glenoid bone loss can be critical even with 13.5% of bone loss.17Indeed, there is a gray zone in treating anterior shoulder instability, which can be treated by both the Bankart and Bristow-Latarjet procedures.

Some authors have presented the arthroscopic belt-and-suspenders procedure combining principles of the Bankart and Bristow-Latarjet procedures to improve shoulder stability by using just the soft-tissue stabilizers; however, this procedure is time-consuming, uses a large medial bone tunnel, and presents a recurrence rate of 8%.8 Many authors have reported that the long head of the biceps (LHB) does not have an important function related to shoulder stability. In addition, some studies have suggested that the LHB is just a vestigial structure out of the natural biceps axis.9101112

On the basis of these fundamentals, it seems more rational to use the LHB to provide both the direct sling effect and tension to the inferior part of the subscapularis.13 These 2 biomechanical stabilizer mechanisms in a lateralized fashion associated with the Bankart procedure can achieve better results for the aforementioned gray zone. We have successfully performed this LHB Bristow-Bankart procedure for 3 years, described as follows.

Surgical Technique

The patient is placed in the beach-chair position under general anesthesia. Through a standard posterior portal, articular inspection is performed, and the lesions are examined under an arthroscopic view. An anteroinferolateral portal is created 1 cm inferior and just lateral to the standard anterior portal. A 16-gauge needle will confirm the best location of this portal. The portal needs to be in line with the humeral head equator. Through this portal, the subscapularis tendon is gently opened in the direction of its fibers using a Kelly device (Fig 1). At this moment, some electrocautery devices and/or a shaver can be useful to widen this subscapularis split.

Through the portal, the surgeon also performs the LHB tenotomy (Fig 2). The anterior glenoid rim is exposed, and the bone is shaved to expose a surface to allow it to heal, similarly to the Bankart procedure. Thereafter, the scope is inserted in the anterolateral portal. The scope moves downward in the direction of the pectoralis major insertion, and visualization of the axillary nerve is suggested at this point (Fig 3). Other instruments are inserted through the anteroinferolateral portal. The LHB tendon is then pulled out just over the pectoralis major (Fig 4). Thereafter, it is pulled out of the body through the anteroinferolateral portal using a grasper. If the surgeon does not release the LHB just over the pectoralis major, the LHB cannot present free motion, and the patient can lose movement after surgery.

Out of the body, a Biotenodesis screw (Arthrex, Naples, FL) is attached to the LHB through a Krackow suture using FiberWire (Arthrex) (Fig 5). A Biotenodesis guidewire is inserted in the same portal through which the LHB was pulled out. This wire passes through the subscapularis split and is inserted just medial to the anterior glenoid rim at the 3- to 4-o’clock position. The bone tunnel is made using a 5- to 6-mm-diameter drill, depending on the tendon diameter (Fig 6). We have never used screws of less than 4.75 mm in diameter and have used drills with diameters of at least 0.25 mm greater than the screw diameter. The tendon is inserted through the subscapularis split on the anterior glenoid rim (Figs 7 and 8).

The labrum is sutured just above the inserted tendon using the FiberWire that was inserted with the interference screw (Fig 9). Two 1.5-mm JuggerKnot suture anchors (Zimmer-Biomet, Warsaw, IN) can be inserted above and under the inserted tendon through the subscapularis split using a cannula in the anteroinferolateral portal, allowing labral reconstruction; sometimes, the superior anchor might not be necessary (Fig 10Video 1). Thus, one could achieve a triple suture for the Bankart repair associated with the sling effect.

Pearls and pitfalls of the described procedure are stated in Table 1. No recurrence, pain, or LHB lesions have been observed. All patients presenting more than 6 months after surgery returned to their sporting activities with no or minimal range-of-motion loss. For some patients, magnetic resonance imaging examinations were performed after the procedure (Figs 11 and 12).

Table 1. Pearls and Pitfalls

Pearls and Pitfalls
Anterolateral portalThe ideal point is 45° anterior to the scapular axis, just over the biceps deflection, guided by an 18-gauge needle via an intra-articular view, with the scope in the posterior portal.
Anteroinferolateral portalThe ideal point is through the subscapularis tendon, near its insertion in the humerus, in line with the humeral head equator, guided by an 18-gauge needle via an intra-articular view, with the scope in the posterior portal.
Cutting LHBAn anteroinferolateral or anterior standard portal should be used. Cutting should not be performed too proximally and should be performed where the elliptical diameters seem to be more similar to those of the LHB.
Accessing superior portion of pectoralis tendonThe scope should be inserted in the anterolateral portal, in the subdeltoid space, in the direction of the pectoralis major insertion. A shaver should be carefully applied to the bursa; the LHB emerges from the bicipital tunnel under the superior portion of the pectoralis major, beneath the short head. Special care is needed for bleeding in this region because vessels can be close.
If bicipital tunnel extends distallyThe tunnel needs to be opened in this area to pull the biceps tendon in this situation.
If biceps does not pass through tunnelThe entire tunnel needs to be opened in this situation.
Insertion pointThis should be performed just after the LHB tendon is pulled out. The guidewire should be inserted just over the LHB, through the subscapularis split, with no cannula. The guidewire should be inserted just medial to the glenoid rim at the 3-o’clock position, similarly to anchor insertion. The hole should extend to the glenoid. A cannula should not be used.
Anchor insertionPreference should be given to soft-tissue anchors once the space is small. A cannula should be used. If required by the surgeon, an anterior portal can also be made, but in our experience, this is not necessary.

LHB, long head of biceps.


Dynamic stabilization due to the sling effect can be the main stabilizer of the shoulder even for Bristow and Latarjet procedures, contributing to 51% to 77% of all stabilization, depending on the upper-limb position.13 This procedure presents a triple soft-tissue block in which the key points are the LHB and the tension of the inferior part of the subscapularis during abduction and external rotation, as well as labral reconstruction. It changes the shoulder kinematics similarly to the Latarjet procedure with no bone block.14 In the end-range position, the capsule and ligament plus the sling effect can be responsible for even 100% of the stability of the Latarjet repair.13

A similar triple soft-tissue block was described using the conjoined tendon8 instead of the LHB. However, because of the large transverse area of the conjoined tendon, the interference screw needs to present a larger diameter, as well as its introduction hole. The presented procedure uses smaller interference screws and the LHB as the sling, preserving the bone stock and allowing a more lateral position for inserting this screw. This feature would potentially add stability. Medialization of the graft with the Bristow procedure can increase rates of recurrent instability.15

There is no consensus on the role of the dynamic stabilizers of the shoulder. Thus far, all biomechanical studies using cadavers have rendered ineffective dynamic assessments. Labral proprioception can also play an important and neglected role in shoulder stability.16 We suggest that the described procedure and similar procedures1718 will add not only biomechanical stabilization19 but also tendon proprioception of the LHB, and the subscapularis can also play an important role in shoulder stabilization.

A similar technique has been described17; however, the following important differences are highlighted: (1) The position and angle of the interference screw differ. In this procedure, it is inserted more laterally, and it is just medial to the glenoid rim, in the same position at which the surgeon would insert a suture anchor. Thus, this screw will also present more lateral angulation in relation to the glenoid plane. (2) The subscapularis split is more lateral, is smaller, and is opened with a Kelly device in the direction of its fibers, allowing better neurologic and subscapularis preservation. (3) Preparation of the glenoid is ever done posterior to the labrum, and this structure is never pulled through the posterior portal. (4) The bicipital groove is not opened, preserving part of the anterior rotator cable that goes to the lesser tuberosity.20 (5) The tendon is cut where it presents a cylindrical axial aspect, allowing it to move through the bicipital groove and to be pulled out just after the bicipital groove.

Similarly to other authors, we believe that the LHB is a residual structure derived from the ancient coracoid bone of quadrupeds.1221In bipeds, this bone also followed the natural axis of the biceps originating at the coracoid process with a 90° rotation of the original coracoid bone.1222 Some primates do not present an LHB similar to that in humans, whereas in some, it can even originate on the pectoralis major insertion or in the humeral head.23

Indeed, the real kinematic importance of the LHB is still controversial. The described procedure would not substitute for bone block procedures with more than 20% to 25% of glenoid bone loss and instead would add stability to the current soft-tissue procedures for smaller amounts of bone loss. It could also be useful for athletes and high-demand patients.147 Advantages and disadvantages of this procedure compared with arthroscopic coracoid and conjoined tendon transfers242526 or arthroscopic Bankart repair are suggested in Table 2.

Table 2. Suggested Differences Between Arthroscopic Bristow-Latarjet, LHB Bristow-Bankart, and Arthroscopic Bankart Procedures

Arthroscopic Bristow-Latarjet ProcedureLHB Bristow-Bankart ProcedureBankart Procedure
Surgical timeHigh (approximately 1 h 30 min)Intermediate (approximately 1 h)Fast (approximately 30 min)
Learning curveLargeIntermediateSmall
Intraoperative complicationsHighHighLow
Postoperative complicationsIntermediateLowLow
RedislocationHighly improbableHighly improbableImprobable
Use for contact sportsStrongly recommendedStrongly recommendedRecommended
Loss of ERModerateSmallSmall
Glenoid bone <5%Not necessaryNot necessaryStrongly recommended
Glenoid bone >5% but <21%Not necessaryStrongly recommendedRecommended
Glenoid bone >21%Strongly recommendedNot recommendedNot recommended
EngagementStrongly recommendedAssociation with remplissageAssociation with remplissage

ER, external rotation; LHB, long head of biceps.

While performing this procedure, it is possible to incorporate other procedures, such as remplissage. In addition, in case of the failure of this procedure, it is possible to apply the Bristow or Latarjet procedure. There is a possibility of LHB tendon rupture, glenoid fracture, and cyst formation, although we have never observed these.

The surgical time for this procedure to access the superior insertion of the pectoralis major is longer compared with the Bankart procedure, in addition to requiring arthroscopic training. If the LHB is pathologic and presents areas of disruption, it can also be oversized in its intra-articular portion. In this case, opening the intertubercular ligament can be an option. In our opinion, this surgical procedure and similar procedures17 can fit exactly in the gray zone between Bankart and Bristow-Latarjet procedures.19

Supplementary Data

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Video 1. Long head of biceps (LHB) Bristow procedure for anterior shoulder instability. The patient is a 23-year-old skydiver with recurrent anterior shoulder instability. A standard release of the labrum is performed. Debridement using a regular shaver is also performed, followed by marrow bone exposure using a bony shaver. The surgeon then looks upward to the LHB tendon and cuts it using regular arthroscopic scissors. The scope is inserted in the anterolateral portal, and the axillary nerve is found. In addition, the LHB is found behind the pectoralis major, and the tendon is pulled out of the body through the anteroinferolateral portal. A Krackow suture is made in the tendon, and the interference screw is ready to use. The subscapularis is then split in the direction of its fibers using a regular Kelly device. This split can be widened by a shaver or electrocautery device. The guide K-wire is inserted in the anterior glenoid rim. Thereafter, the drill creates the hole into which the biceps and interference screw will be inserted. The LHB is introduced through the subscapularis split to the hole. The interference screw fixes the LHB tendon. The labrum over the biceps can be sutured using the screw wire or a suture anchor. Finally, inferior to the tendon, a suture anchor is inserted to fix the inferior labrum.Download : Download Acrobat PDF file (321KB)

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