Total Elbow Arthroplasty for Distal Humeral Fractures: A Ten-Year-Minimum Follow-up Study

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Background:Total elbow arthroplasty is commonly considered for elderly patients with comminuted distal humeral fractures. Satisfactory short-term outcomes have been reported, but long-term outcomes are unknown. Our purpose was to assess the long-term outcomes of total elbow arthroplasty after distal humeral fracture and to determine differences between elbows with or without inflammatory arthritis at the time of fracture.Methods:Forty-four total elbow arthroplasties were performed after distal humeral fracture; those patients were followed for a minimum of 10 years and were evaluated with regard to pain, motion, Mayo Elbow Performance Scores, complications, and reoperations. The outcomes in elbows with and without inflammatory arthritis were compared. Kaplan-Meier survivorship analysis was performed.Results:Total elbow arthroplasty provided good pain relief and motion; the mean visual analog scale for pain was 0.6, the mean flexion was 123°, and the mean loss of extension was 24°. The mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 90.5 points, with 3 patients scoring <75 points. Five elbows (11%) developed deep infection, treated surgically with component retention (3 acute) or resection (2 chronic). Implant revision or resection was performed in 8 elbows (18%): 3 for infections (1 reimplantation and 2 resections), 3 for ulnar loosening (associated with periprosthetic fracture in 1), and 2 for ulnar component fractures. Additional periprosthetic fractures were observed in 5 elbows. The survival rates for elbows with rheumatoid arthritis were 85% at 5 years and 76% at 10 years, and the survival rates for elbows without rheumatoid arthritis were 92% at both 5 and 10 years. The most relevant risk factor for revision was male sex (hazard ratio, 12.6 [95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 93.6]).Conclusions:Selective use of total elbow arthroplasty to treat fractures of the distal part of the humerus for infirm, less active older patients and patients with inflammatory arthritis has acceptable longevity in surviving patients, but at the cost of a number of major complications.Level of Evidence:Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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