Ryan Calfee MD, Ian Madom MD and Arnold-Peter C. Weiss MD,
Division of Hand, Upper Extremity, and Microvascular Surgery, Department of Orthopaedics, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI.
Radial head fractures are a particularly common yet challenging problem facing orthopedic surgeons today. Over the years multiple treatment modalities have been used including conservative management, open reduction and internal fixation, head excision, and radial head arthroplasty. The clinical outcome studies of metallic radial head arthroplasty systems indicate that head replacement is a reasonable option to offer patients with comminuted radial head fractures and complex elbow trauma. Overall the results for this procedure are quite encouraging and appear durable given the severity of the elbow injuries treated with radial head arthroplasty. This article discusses the history, classification, and treatments of radial head fractures. A description of the stabilizing structures of the elbow as they relate to radial head fractures also is included. Surgical considerations that relate to radial head arthroplasty are detailed and encompass arthroplasty indications, surgical technique, postoperative rehabilitation, and complications. Finally the arthroplasty outcomes literature and a review of current implant options also are discussed.
The Journal of Hand Surgery Volume 31, Issue 2 , February 2006, Pages 314-321.