The epidemiology of radial head and neck fractures

Andrew D Duckworth, Nicholas D Clement, Paul J Jenkins, Stuart A Aitken, Charles M Court-Brown, Margaret M McQueen
Journal of Hand Surgery 2012, 37 (1): 112-9

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to define the epidemiological characteristics of proximal radial fractures.

METHODS: Using a prospective trauma database of 6,872 patients, we identified all patients who sustained a fracture of the radial head or neck over a 1-year period. Age, sex, socioeconomic status, mechanism of injury, fracture classification, and associated injuries were recorded and analyzed.

RESULTS: We identified 285 radial head (n = 199) and neck (n = 86) fractures, with a patient median age of 43 years (range, 13-94 y). The mean age of male patients was younger when compared to female patients for radial head and neck fractures, with no gender predominance seen. Gender did influence the mechanism of injury, with female patients commonly sustaining their fracture following a low-energy fall. Radial head fractures were associated more commonly with complex injuries according to the Mason classification, while associated injuries were related to age, the mechanism of injury, and increasing fracture complexity.

CONCLUSIONS: Radial head and neck fractures have distinct epidemiological characteristics, and consideration for osteoporosis in a subset of patients is recommended.


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