Outcome after the surgical treatment of the Dubberley type B distal humeral capitellar and trochlear fractures with a buttress plate

Muhammed Taha Demir, Sema Ertan Birsel, Muhammet Salih, Yusuf Pirinçci, Olgar Birsel, Hayrettin Kesmezacar
Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica 2020 June 18

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the functional outcomes of the surgical treatment performed with a buttress plate for the trochlear and distal capitellum fractures with posterior extension in the humerus.

METHODS: The data belonging to 6 female and 4 male patients with a mean age of 43.8±11.1 (34-72) years were retrospectively evaluated. The mean follow-up period was 59.6±38.79 (22-127) months. The trochlear extension and posterior comminution of the fractures were assessed through the initial X-rays and computerized tomography images. Ten patients were classified as Dubberley type B. All fractures were treated surgically, with open reduction and internal fixation using a lateral buttress plate, headless cannulated screws, and Kirschner (K)-wires. The passive flexion and extension exercises were initiated at the first postoperative day. The patients were evaluated clinically and radiographically at the final follow-up. The outcomes were quantified using the Mayo Elbow Performance Index (MEPI), visual analog scale (VAS) pain score, and the patient's opinion.

RESULTS: At the final follow-up, the mean elbow flexion was 137.5°±3° (132°-140°), extension was -17.9°±9.2° (10°-35°), pronation was 72.2°±2.6° (68°-75°), and supination was 78.9°±4.09 (72°-85°). The mean MEPI score was calculated as 95.5±5.98 (85-100). According to the MEPI score, 8 patients were evaluated as excellent and 2 as good. The mean VAS pain score was 0.8±1.03 (0-2). The subjective patient evaluation was recorded as excellent in 5 patients, good in 3 patients, and moderate in 2 patients. One patient developed avascular necrosis and 2 patients had elbow joint arthrosis. K-wire migration was observed in one patient. Loss of reduction, nonunion, malunion, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or heterotopic ossification were not encountered.

CONCLUSION: The management of distal humeral fractures is challenging, and favorable outcomes are closely associated with early joint motion. A solid fixation grants early mobilization. An internal fixation using lateral buttress plate, headless cannulated screws, and interfragmentary K-wires provides a solid and secure construction that allows early postoperative joint motion.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, Therapeutic study.

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