Return to work following a distal biceps repair: a systematic review of the literature
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BACKGROUND: Among an active aging population, distal biceps tendon ruptures are becoming increasingly common. Typically, they are the result of an acute heavy eccentric load being placed on an already contracted muscle, and surgery is the gold standard treatment for optimal clinical and functional outcomes. Although improved strength has been shown after operative repair, there is little evidence available regarding a timeframe for return to work-related activity. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to provide guidance for return to work after a distal biceps repair. METHODS: The authors searched online databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE) from inception until October 11, 2018, for literature pertaining to functional outcomes after distal biceps repair. Study inclusion and exclusion criteria were established a priori and applied in duplicate independently by 2 reviewers. RESULTS: Of the 480 initial studies, 40 papers satisfied full text inclusion criteria (19 case control studies, 12 retrospective reviews, 9 prospective reviews). A total of 1270 patients with 1280 distal bicep ruptures were included in the study. The mean age of patients was 45.38 years, and 97% (n = 1067) of reported patients were male. The mean follow-up time was 30 months (range, 6-84 months). After distal biceps repair, 1128 (89%) of patients were able to fully return to work without any modification of duties. Time to return to work was reported in 17 of the included studies with a mean of 14.37 ± 0.52 weeks. DISCUSSION: The average time to return to work after distal biceps repair in the literature was just beyond 14 weeks. Patients and employers may be given a range between 3 and 4 months, with variation dependent on job demands. Further studies are needed to establish whether the surgical approach or repair technique has any impact on time to return to work.