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Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

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What happens to the elbow joint after fractured radial head excision? Clinical and radiographic study at a mean 15-yearfollow-up

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Comminuted fractures of the radial head can be treated by radial head excision, open reduction and internal fixation, or radial head replacement. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term clinical and radiographic results of 22 patients with an isolated Mason type III fracture of the radial head treated by radial head excision. Mean age at the time of surgery was 36 years and average follow-up was 15 years. Overall outcome at the last follow-up was scored as excellent, good, fair or poor, considering elbow and wrist pain, valgus deformity, elbow and forearm range of motion, and elbow radiographic osteoarthritic changes. At follow-up mean pain score on VAS was was 1, average increase in elbow valgus deformity was 8°, mean flexion of the elbow was 138°, pronation of the forearm averaged 78°, and supination averaged 85°. Degenerative changes were scored as grade 0 in 4 patients, grade 1 in 14 patients, and grade 2 in 4 patients. The overall outcome was excellent in 18 patients and good in 4 patients. When a comminuted radial head fracture is not associated with elbow dislocation or ligamentous injuries, resection of the radial head is a valid surgical option because it is a simple and rapid technique, it has a low learning curve, and it has a high rate of excellent clinical and radiographic long-term results.

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Correspondence to C. Faldini.

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Key words

  • Elbow
  • Radial head
  • Excision
  • Arthritis