Operative treatment of terrible triad of the elbow with a modified Pugh standard protocol: Retrospective analysis of a prospective cohort

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The aim of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of the surgical treatment of terrible triad injuries of the elbow using a modified standard surgical approach, and treatment determined by the mode and mechanism of injury, and intraoperative findings.The study was a retrospective analysis of a prospective cohort of patients presenting with terrible triad injuries of the elbow, who underwent surgical treatment between July 2009 and January 2014. All patients were treated surgically according to a modified Pugh standard protocol. Elbow functional status and range of movements were evaluated at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years or more after surgery. Radiographic signs of post-traumatic arthritis were rated according to the Broberg and Morrey system.Our series included a final cohort of 29 males and 13 females with a mean age of 48.23 ± 10.95 years at the time of injury. The mean follow-up period was 30.47 ± 7.65 months. The mean flexion-extension arc was 107° ± 22°, and the average forearm rotation arc was 145° ± 14°. The mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 88 ± 10 points (range 55 to 100 points), with excellent results in 24 elbows, good results in 16, and poor results in 2. Functional results of the elbow improved significantly from 3 months postoperatively (P < .05), but tended to plateau from 1 year after surgery. Thirteen patients had radiographic signs of arthrosis (9 grade 1, 4 grade 2). Postoperative complications were local infection around the incision (n = 1), transient postoperative median nerve paralysis (n = 1), and postoperative posterior interosseous nerve paralysis (n = 1). Four patients required further surgery. Five patients had evidence of heterotopic ossification.Overall, we show that slight modifications to Pugh standard protocol for the surgical treatment of terrible triad injuries can lead to good to excellent results, although there were a good number of complications. The ideal surgical approach and treatment should be based on the mode and mechanism of injury, and intraoperative findings, and modifying the standard surgical treatment approach for terrible triad elbow injuries may be beneficial.

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