Several surgical approaches to the medial elbow are described; however, it remains unclear which exposure provides the optimal view of relevant medial elbow structures. The purpose of this anatomic study was to determine the visible surface area of the coronoid process, distal humerus, and radial head through 5 approaches to the medial elbow.

Methods Eight fresh-frozen cadaveric upper extremity specimens were dissected. Five surgical approaches were performed on each specimen. The Smith muscle-splitting approach to the ulnar collateral ligament was performed first (Smith), followed by the Hotchkiss medial “Over the top” approach (Hotchkiss), the extended medial elbow approach (EMEA), the flexor carpi ulnaris splitting approach (FCU-Split), and the Taylor and Scham approach (T&S). Bony visualization was determined using laser surface scanning (Artec Space Spider; Artec 3D). The scans were segmented using commercially available digital software (Geomagic Wrap; 3D Systems Corporation), and the surface area visualized was determined. A descriptive analysis of the joint areas visible using the medial collateral ligament (MCL) as a clinical landmark was performed.

Reference link-