Fractures of the distal humerus operated on using the Lambda® plate: report of 75 cases at 9.5 years follow-up

D Saragaglia, R-C Rouchy, N Mercier
Orthopaedics & Traumatology, Surgery & Research: OTSR 2013, 99 (6): 707-12

INTRODUCTION: The study sought to assess the functional results and complications of osteosynthesis using the Lambda(®) plate (Zimmer, Étupes, France) in treating fracture of the distal extremity of the humerus.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The initial series comprised 115 patients (116 fractures), treated between 1992 and 2008. Forty-one (mainly foreigners) were lost to follow-up. The final series thus comprised 74 patients (75 fractures): 44 female and 30 male, with a mean age of 46±23 years (range, 16-95 years), 22 (29%) being aged 65 years or over. According to AO classification, 22 of the fractures of the distal extremity of the humerus (29%) were diaphyseal-metaphyseal, corresponding to a particular grade of type A2, 12 (16%) were type A2 or A3, six (8%) type B, and 35 (47%) type C. Eight were open fractures: seven grade 1 and one grade IIa on Gustilo's classification. The Lambda(®) plate is an inverted Y shape, with a stem of up to ten holes and sectile arms that can be remodeled to adapt perfectly to the type of fracture and the shape of the distal end of the humerus. A posterior approach was used in all cases: in 26 cases, an extra-articular transolecranal approach and otherwise a transtricipital approach, either vertical for diaphyseal-metaphyseal fracture or inverted V for type-C fracture.

RESULTS: Mean follow-up was 115±64 months (range, 24-227 months). There were no cases of infection, non-union of olecranial osteotomy or disassembly of the internal fixation; there was, on the other hand, one case of non-union of the lateral condyle and one of the distal extremity of the humerus, two cases of dysesthesia in the ulnar nerve territory and one in the radial nerve territory (following preoperative paralysis), and four cases of stiffness requiring surgical arthrolysis between 6 and 12 months postoperatively. At follow-up, mean active elbow flexion was 133°±13° (range, 90°-150°) and active extension -12°±14° (range, -45°-0°). Mean elbow flexion range of motion exceeded 100° in 58 patients (77%), was between 50° and 100° in 16 (21%) and was less than 50° in one. Mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS) was 97±7 points (range, 40-100), and mean Quick DASH Score (converted as a score out of 100) was 10±18 (range, 0-54). There were 67 excellent results (MEPS, 90-100 points), five good (75-89), two moderate and one poor. The 35 type-C fractures displayed no significant differences from the series as a whole (P=1.24 for MEPS).

CONCLUSION: Osteosynthesis using the Lambda(®) plate gave excellent medium-term results in terms of both fixation stability and recovery of elbow function after fracture of the distal extremity of the humerus, even in elderly osteoporotic patients.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV: retrospective study.

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