[Hinged external fixator in elbow trauma management]

Xie-Yuan Jiang, Li-Dan Zhang, Xing-Hua Liu, Lei Huang, Jie Wei, Man-Yi Wang, Guo-Wei Rong
Zhonghua Wai Ke za Zhi [Chinese Journal of Surgery] 2004 June 22, 42 (12): 737-40

OBJECTIVE: To introduce a new way of treatment for elbow stiffness and instability.

METHODS: 30 cases of elbow trauma were treated with mobile hinged Orthofix elbow fixator, 26 of them were followed up. There are 15 male patients and 11 female patients. The average age is 32.6 years old. The 26 injured elbows involved 12 cases on left side and 14 cases on right side; Sixteen cases on the dominant side and 10 cases on the non-dominant side. Sixteen cases had elbow stiffness, 5 cases had acute radial head fracture and posterior dislocation of the elbow, 3 of cases had Monteggia's fracture dislocation, and 2 cases had neglected posterior dislocation of the elbow.

RESULTS: The average follow up time was 6 months (3 - 12 month). The mean time of fixation with fixator was 8.5 weeks (6 - 11 weeks). The mean ROM of the 16 cases of elbow stiffness was (37.5 +/- 0.8) degrees before operation, and (96.5 +/- 0.6) degrees operation, with a significant difference (P < 0.05). The mean Mayo elbow score was (69.5 +/- 1.7) before operation, compared with (82.8 +/- 1.6) after operation, with a significant difference (< 0.05). For the other 10 cases (5 cases with acute radial head fracture and posterior dislocation of the elbow, 3 cases with Monteggia's fracture dislocation, 2 cases with neglected posterior dislocation of the elbow), the average ROM of the elbow flexion-extension was 95 degrees (65 degrees - 150 degrees ); The average range of flexion was 117 degrees; the average loss of extension was 22 degrees; the average pronation was 76 degrees (20 degrees - 90 degrees ), the average supination was 75 degrees (15 degrees - 90 degrees ). Nine of the cases achieved anatomic reduction and proved by X-ray. The mean Mayo elbow score was 84 (49 - 96). Three cases were rated excellent, 4 good, 2 fair and 1 poor. The rate of excellent and good was 70% (7/10). Nine cases had no pain or mild pain, and did not need analgesic. Eight cases returned to their former work, 5 of the cases had complications.

CONCLUSIONS: The mobile hinged elbow external fixator have following advantages: (1) distraction of the articular space and enhance fracture healing; (2) allow early movement of the elbow during healing; (3) provide stable environment for the healing after arthrolysis and reconstruction. Mobile hinged elbow external fixator can achieve successful result in the treatment of elbow stiffness or unstable fracture dislocation of elbow.

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