A biceps tenodesis is a surgical procedure performed for the treatment of a damaged proximal long head of biceps tendon (biceps tendonitis). Biceps tenodesis may be performed as an isolated procedure, but more often is part of a larger shoulder surgery, such as a rotator cuff repair. During biceps tenodesis surgery, the normal attachment of the biceps tendon in the shoulder joint is detached (if not completely torn already), and the tendon is reinserted to the bone of the humerus (arm bone).

Biceps tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis is inflammation of the long head of the biceps tendon. Biceps tendonitis usually occurs along with other shoulder problems. In most cases, there is also damage to the rotator cuff tendon. Other problems that often accompany biceps tendonitis include:

  • Arthritis of the shoulder joint
  • Tears in the glenoid labrum
  • Chronic shoulder instability
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Other diseases that cause inflammation of the shoulder joint lining

In the early stages of biceps tendonitis, the tendon becomes red and swollen. As tendonitis develops, the tendon sheath (covering) can thicken. The tendon itself often thickens or grows larger. The tendon in the late stages is often dark red in color due to the inflammation. Occasionally, the damage to the tendon can result in a tendon tear, and then deformity of the arm (a “Popeye” bulge in the upper arm).

Surgery for biceps tendonitis is usually performed arthroscopically. During arthroscopy, the orthopedic surgeon makes small incisions around the shoulder and then inserts a small camera and miniature instruments through the incisions. This allows the surgeon to assess the condition of the biceps tendon as well as other structures in the shoulder.