The Functional Outcome with Metallic Radial Head Implants in the Treatment of Unstable Elbow Fractures: A Long-Term Review

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Abstract

Background

A long-term review of metal prosthetic radial head replacement in patients with radial head fractures associated with gross instability of the elbow has been performed.

Method

Twenty patients were reviewed using a modified Mayo Clinic functional rating index system. The mean follow-up was 12.1 years, with a range from 6 to 29 years.

Results

Results were excellent in 12 patients, good in 4 patients, fair in 2 patients, and poor in 2 patients. A metal radial head replacement restored elbow stability when fracture of the radial head occurred in combination with dislocation of the elbow, rupture of the medial collateral ligament, fracture of the proximal ulna, and/or fracture of the coronoid process.

Conclusion

We conclude that a metal radial head prosthesis has select indications. We advocate its use when the radial head cannot be reconstructed in the setting of a clinically unstable elbow. Results suggest that it functions well on a long-term basis.

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