Results of Treatment of Fracture-Dislocations of the Elbow

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Twenty-four patients with ulnohumeral dislocation associated with radial head fracture were studied two to 35 years after injury. On the basis of an objective functional grading score that included elements of pain, motion, strength, and stability, results were excellent in three (12%), good in 15 (62%), and fair in six (25%). The best results were obtained in patients with Mason Type 2 injuries treated by closed reduction without fracture excision and with early complete radial head excision for a Type 3 fracture. Late instability was not observed in any of the 24 patients. Prolonged immobilization (greater than four weeks) was associated with poor results. Ectopic ossification occurred in only one patient who had surgical treatment at eight days after injury; the grading score was only fair. These observations demonstrate that the injury should be treated with early reduction of the ulnohumeral joint and treatment of the radial head fracture according to its type. Immobilization for more than four weeks should be avoided. The prognosis is better than what has been thought previously.

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