Archives of orthopaedic and trauma surgery 2017 04 21() doi 10.1007/s00402-017-2693-z
For comminuted and displaced fractures of the radial head open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is recommended nowadays as the treatment of choice. Due to the development of locking plates the possibilities of ORIF in complex fracture types were extended. The purpose of this retrospective survey therefore was to review the preliminary subjective and objective results in patients treated by anatomically preshaped locked plating. A reliable fracture healing for these recently introduced plating devices was hypothesized.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Subjective and objective criteria included patient’s satisfaction, pain rating on a visual analogue scale (VAS) and active range of motion (ROM) compared to the contralateral armside. Functional scoring included the Morrey elbow performance score (MEPS), the QuickDASH and the elbow self-assessment score (ESAS). Furthermore, follow-up radiographs were reviewed.
Between 2011 and 2014 a total of 24 patients were managed with ORIF using anatomically preshaped low-profile locking plates. All patients had suffered from comminuted radial head fractures (type III-IV according to Mason classification). Twenty of 24 patients returned for follow-up examination after a mean of 30 months (range 18-53 months). Patients’ satisfaction was rated as highly satisfied in 17 cases and satisfied in 3 cases. An unrestricted ROM for extension-flexion arc and pronation-supination arc was rated in 10 cases. Minor ROM deficiencies with a 5° limited extension compared to the contralateral side was evaluated in 6 cases. Only four patients were rated with and extension and supination deficiency of 10°, one of whom with an additional pronation deficiency of 10°. The calculated MEPS was Ø 98 ± 4 (range 85-100), and the QuickDASH was Ø 3 ± 6 (range 0-21). The ESAS was completed by 18 patients with a mean of Ø 96.54 ± 2.95 (range 94-100) indicating a non-restricted elbow function.
The treatment of comminuted radial head fractures using anatomically preshaped locking radial head plates represents a reliable and safe surgical approach, leading to good to excellent functional results. Being aware of the importance of the radial head for elbow stability, open reduction and internal fixation should be preferred prior to radial head resection or replacement in complex radial head fractures. Further trials with a higher number of patients are needed to confirm the advantages of preshaped radial head plates.