Functional evaluation of comminuted intra-articular fractures of the distal humerus (AO type C). Long term results in twenty-six patients.

Published online: Apr 27 2004

Tyllianakis M, Panagopoulos A, Papadopoulos AX, Kaisidis A, Zouboulis P.

Orthopaedic Department, Patras University, 26504 Rio-Patras, Greece


The authors present the results achieved in 26 patients who presented with intra-articular fractures of the distal humerus (8 AO type C1, 8 C2 and 10 C3) and who were operatively treated between 1999 and 2001; they were retrospectively evaluated after a mean follow-up period of 70.2 months. There were 12 males and 14 females with a mean age of 46.1 years. After a standard posterior approach with olecranon osteotomy, internal fixation was achieved with unilateral or bilateral plates and screws, or isolated screws and/or Kirschner wires. Anterior intramuscular transposition of the ulnar nerve was performed in 14 of the patients. The results were evaluated using the criteria of Morrey. The results were graded as excellent in 6 patients (23.1%), very good in 15 (57.6%) and fair in 5 (19.3%). Complications included postoperative ulnar nerve palsy (1), wire migration (4), heterotopic ossification (3), infection (2) and material failure (2). The overall re-operation rate was 38.4%. The authors conclude that careful preoperative planning, transolecranon approach for good visualisation, routine ulnar nerve exploration and stable internal fixation facilitating early active rehabilitation, remain the gold standard for the treatment of intra-articular fractures of the distal humerus.