Fixation of the coronoid process in elbow fracture-dislocations

Grant E Garrigues, Walter H Wray, Anneluuk L C Lindenhovius, David C Ring, David S Ruch
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2011 October 19, 93 (20): 1873-81

BACKGROUND: Terrible triad injuries consist of a posterior dislocation of the elbow, a coronoid fracture, and a radial head fracture. The coronoid plays a pivotal role as an anterior buttress, yet the optimal management of the coronoid fracture remains unknown. We hypothesize that suture lasso fixation of the coronoid fracture leads to fewer complications and improved outcomes compared with screw or suture anchor fixation techniques.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review performed at three tertiary care centers identified forty consecutive patients treated for terrible triad injuries of the elbow with a minimum follow-up of eighteen months (mean, twenty-four months; range, eighteen to fifty-three months). All patients were managed with a standard approach consisting of: (1) repair or replacement of the radial head; (2) repair of the lateral ulnar collateral ligament (LUCL) of the elbow; and (3) repair of the coronoid fracture with one of two techniques: Group I (n = 28) consisted of the "lasso" technique and Group II (n = 12) consisted of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with screws or suture anchors.

RESULTS: For the study population, the mean postoperative arc of elbow motion was 115° (range, 75° to 140°), the average Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score was 16 (range, 0 to 43), and the average Broberg-Morrey score was 90 (range, 64 to 100). For repair of the coronoid fracture, the suture lasso technique was more stable than the other techniques intraoperatively, both before (p < 0.05) and after (p < 0.05) LUCL repair, and at the final follow-up (p < 0.05). ORIF was associated with a higher prevalence of implant failure (p < 0.05), and suture anchors were associated with a higher prevalence of malunion and nonunion (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: For terrible triad injuries, greater stability with fewer complications was achieved with use of the suture lasso technique for coronoid fracture fixation.

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