1 University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire, UK
2 Worcester Royal Hospital, Worcester, UK
Radial head fractures are common elbow injuries in adults and are frequently associated with additional soft tissue and bone injuries.
A literature search was performed and the authors’ personal experiences are reported.
Mason type I fractures are treated non-operatively with splinting and early mobilisation. The management of Mason type II injuries is less clear with evidence supporting both non-operative treatment and internal fixation. The degree of intra-articular displacement and angulation acceptable for non-operative management has yet to be conclusively defined. Similarly the treatment of type III and IV fractures remain controversial. Traditional radial head excision is associated with valgus instability and should be considered only for patients with low functional demands. Comparative studies have shown improved results from internal fixation over excision. Internal fixation should only be attempted when anatomic reduction and initiation of early motion can be achieved. Authors have reported that results from fixation are poorer and complication rates are higher if more than three fragments are present. Radial head arthroplasty aims to reconstruct the native head and is indicated when internal fixation is not feasible and in the presence of complex elbow injuries. Overstuffing of the radiocapitellar joint is a frequent technical fault and has significant adverse effects on elbow biomechanics. Modular design improves the surgeon’s ability to reconstruct the native joint. Two randomised controlled trials have shown improved clinical outcomes and lower complication rate following arthroplasty when compared to internal fixation.
We have presented details regarding the treatment of various types of radial head fractures - further evidence, however, is still required to provide clarity over the role of these different management strategies.
Keywords: Radial head fracture, Radial head replacement, Internal fixation, Elbow, Elbow biomech.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the Coventry and Warwickshire Shoulder and Elbow Unit, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, Clifford Bridge Road, Coventry, CV2 2DX, UK, Tel: 02476 965094; E-mail: Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org