Isolated Tearing and Avulsion of the Distal Biceps Femoris Tendon During Sporting Activities: A Systematic Review

Derrick M. Knapik, Kathryn B. Metcalf, James E. Voos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Isolated tearing and avulsions of the distal biceps femoris sustained during sporting activities are uncommon. Purpose: To systematically review the literature to identify distal biceps femoris tears and avulsions experienced during sporting activities to determine injury prevalence, sporting activities/mechanisms, management, and time to return to sport. Study Design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A systematic review was conducted investigating studies published between January 1970 and December 2017 that reported on athletes sustaining tears and avulsions of the distal biceps femoris during sporting activity. The review followed the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines and used the PubMed, Biosis Previews, SPORTDiscus, PEDro, and EMBASE databases. Inclusion criteria were studies reporting on (1) partial or complete tears and avulsions of the distal biceps femoris with documented sporting activity causing injury, (2) injury management (operative vs nonoperative), and (3) patient outcome. Exclusion criteria consisted of studies reporting on (1) distal biceps femoris injuries without tearing, (2) injuries secondary to nonsporting activities (mechanical falls, trauma), (3) concomitant injuries to adjacent structures about the knee, and (4) studies not reporting injury management or patient outcomes. Sporting activities, injury characteristics, management, and time to return to sport were analyzed. Results: A total of 22 athletes with isolated distal biceps femoris tears or avulsions were identified. Injuries were predominantly associated with noncontact knee hyperextension with concurrent hip flexion during soccer or track and field, most commonly isolated to the musculotendinous junction. Injuries were treated surgically in 91% (20/22) of athletes. Mean (±SD) overall time to return to sport was 4.9 ± 3.3 months, and for athletes who underwent operative repair, there were no significant postoperative differences based on injury location (musculotendinous junction vs avulsion, P =.25) or injury severity (partial vs complete injury, P =.13). Conclusion: Isolated distal biceps femoris injuries occurred primarily via noncontact mechanisms. The majority of cases were treated surgically, with successful return to sport at preinjury levels. No significant difference in return to sport was appreciated based on injury location or severity. Further studies are necessary to determine the impact of treatment method.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • avulsion
  • biceps femoris
  • distal hamstrings
  • knee hyperextension
  • return to sport
  • tearing


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