JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Critical analysis of olecranon fracture management by pre-contoured locking plates.

BACKGROUND: Fractures of the proximal ulna are rare and usually managed surgically. Strong fixation of the harware is essential to obtain good outcomes. We report our experience with pre-contoured locking plate fixation of complex olecranon fractures and present a critical appraisal of the outcomes.

HYPOTHESIS: Pre-contoured locking plates provide good outcomes, but their clinical tolerance may be limited in some instances.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: From September 2009 to December 2011, 28 patients were managed using a pre-contoured locking compression plate (LCP(®)). Among them, 6 were excluded because of missing data, which left 22 patients (11 males and 11 females) with a mean age of 55.7 years, including 12 who were employed. The fracture was on the dominant side in 11 patients. According to the Mayo Clinic classification, 15 fractures were type II and 7 type III. In addition to the ulnar fracture, a radial head fracture was present in 9 patients and a coronoid process fracture in 5 patients. Functional recovery was assessed using the Broberg-Morrey score and Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS). Radiographs were obtained to evaluate the quality of fracture reduction and fracture healing, as well as to look for ossifications and osteoarthritis.

RESULTS: Mean follow-up was 20 months. Flexion was 131°, extension loss was 9.5°, pronation was 79°, and supination was 80.5°. The mean Broberg-Morrey score was 96.7 and the mean MEPS score 96.6. Fracture healing occurred in all patients, within a mean of 10.6 weeks. Evidence of early osteoarthritis was found in 6 patients, ossifications in 3 patients, and synostosis in 1 patient. An infection was successfully treated with lavage and antibiotic therapy in 1 patient. The fixation hardware was removed in 6 patients. No prognostic factors were identified.

DISCUSSION-CONCLUSION: Our hypothesis was confirmed. The outcomes are encouraging and comparable to those reported in the literature. The critical issue is the limited clinical tolerance of the plate with a high rate of posterior impingement requiring plate removal (27%). Rigorous technique is essential during plate implantation.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, retrospective study.

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