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Open Surgical Release for Contractures of the Elbow

Philipp N. Streubel J Am Acad Orthop Surg June 2015 ; 23

Compared with arthroscopic release, open release is more commonly used for the treatment of stiff elbow. Flexion is recovered by releasing posterior tethering soft-tissue structures and by removing anterior impingement between the coronoid and/or radial head and the distal humerus. Extension is improved by releasing anterior soft-tissue tethers and by removing impingement between the olecranon tip and the olecranon fossa. Open elbow release is most commonly performed via ligament-sparing approaches. Ulnar nerve identification and transposition is recommended in the presence of nerve dysfunction or when correction of significant loss of elbow flexion is anticipated. Long-term improvement in flexion and extension can be expected with proper patient selection. Less predictable results are obtained in adolescent patients and in those with underlying traumatic brain injur

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