Clinical relevance of the anatomy of the long head bicipital groove, an evidence-based review

Derek F.P. van Deurzen*, Frans L. Garssen, Gino M.M.J. Kerkhoffs, Ronald L.A.W. Bleys, Isha ten Have, Michel P.J. van den Bekerom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Pathology in the bicipital groove can be a source of anterior shoulder pain. Many studies have compared treatment techniques for the long head biceps tendon (LHBT) without showing any clinically significant differences. As the LHBT is closely related to the bicipital groove, anatomical aspects of this groove could also be implicated in surgical outcomes. The aim of this review is to contribute to developing the optimal surgical treatment of LHBT pathology based on clinically relevant aspects of the bicipital groove. Medline/PubMed was systematically searched using key words “bicipital” and “groove” and combinations of their synonyms. Studies reporting on evolution, embryonic development, morphometry, vascularization, innervation, and surgical treatment of the LHBT and the bicipital groove were included. The length of the bicipital groove reported in the included studies ranged from 81.00 mm to 87.33 mm, width from 7.74 mm to 11.60 mm, and depth from 3.70 mm to 6.00 mm. The anatomy of the bicipital groove shows a bottleneck narrowing approximately two-thirds from superior. The transverse humeral ligament can constrain the bicipital groove and could be involved in anterior shoulder pain. When either LHBT tenotomy or tenodesis is performed, routinely releasing the transverse ligament could decrease postoperative anterior shoulder pain, which has frequently been reported in the literature. To avoid the bottle neck narrowing, a location below the bicipital groove may be preferred for biceps tenodesis over a more proximal tenodesis site. Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • anatomy
  • anterior shoulder pain
  • biceps tendon
  • bicipital groove
  • shoulder


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