BACKGROUND: This study reported the clinical outcomes and complications after elbow hemiarthroplasty (EHA) for acute distal humeral fractures Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO)/Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) type C2 and C3.
METHOD: During a 6-year period, 24 active patients with acute intra-articular and multifragmentary distal humeral fractures were treated with an EHA by 1 of 4 experienced elbow surgeons. Mean age was 65 years (range, 47-80 years). Median follow-up time was 20 months (range, 12-70 months).
RESULTS: The median Oxford Elbow Score was 40 points (range, 17-48 points), where 48 points represents a normal elbow. Outcomes were "good to excellent results" in 21 patients, "fair" in 2 patients, and "poor" in 1 patient. The median Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 85 points (range, 50-100 points), where 100 points represents a normal elbow. Outcomes were "good to excellent" in 19 patients, "fair" in 4 patients, and "poor" in 1 patient. The median pain severity score was 2 (range, 0-7) in a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 represents a pain-free elbow. The median flexion/extension and supination/pronation arcs were 110° (range, 60°-140°) and 160° (range, 115°-180°), respectively. Complications were recorded in 7 patients, and 3 of them underwent reoperation because of stiffness, which was treated with open release.
CONCLUSIONS: EHA provides a good and reliable option in the treatment of an acute intra-articular distal humeral fracture unsuitable for open reduction and internal fixation, especially in active patients.