Is the ‘safe zone’ identified in preoperative computed tomography helpful for choosing optimal implant for fixation of radial head fracture?


Radial head fracture, Mason classification, safe zone, cortical screw, headless compression screw, plate

Published online: Jan 09 2024


Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Eulji University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea


The purpose of this study is to assess the clinical significance of the radiologic safe zone based on computed tomography and to compare the outcomes of three different implants for fixation of isolated radial head fractures. We retrospectively reviewed 367 patients who underwent internal fixation for isolated radial head fractures. We newly defined two subtypes of Mason type II fractures associated with the radiographic safe zone (IIA, two-part fracture allowing for safe fixation of plate; IIB, two-part fracture not allowing for safe fixation). 170 patients (CCS group, n = 82; HCS group, n = 31; plate group, n = 57) were investigated with no significant differences in demographics. The range of pronation and supination at 1 month postoperatively (P = 0.04 and P = 0.04) and the range of supination at 6 and 12 months postoperatively (P = 0.03 and P = 0.03) were significantly smaller in the plate group. In Mason type IIB fractures, the average MEPS was higher in the CCS and HSC groups than in the plate group (P = 0.01 and P = 0.02). And the average DASH score was lower in the CCS and HCS groups (P < 0.01 and P < 0.01). Evaluation of the radiologic safe zone is potentially helpful in selecting better surgical fixation option. For type III fractures, 2.3-mm cortical screws would be a better option than Acutrak screws. Plates would not be suitable for type IIB radial head fractures.