Functional outcome following internal fixation of intraarticular fractures of the distal humerus (AO type C).
Aslam N., Willett K.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the functional outcome following internal fixation of intraarticular fractures of the distal humerus (AO Type C) with a minimum follow-up of two years. A retrospective evaluation with prospective clinical review was carried out. Twenty-six consecutive patients with fractures of the distal humerus were treated over a 31-month period. Their mean age was 56 years (range, 18-82). Six patients were not available for final clinical review. Analysis of the results were based on the medical records, pre-operative and postoperative radiographs of all 26 patients and clinical review of 20 patients at a mean follow-up of 35 months (range, 24-48 months). Twenty-six fractures were fixed using the AO double column plating techniques. Radiographic evaluation of the quality of reduction was carried out using a grading system. Clinical outcome was assessed using the Broberg and Morrey functional rating index. Fourteen patients (70%) had an excellent or good outcome, five patients (25%) a fair outcome and one patient (5%) had a poor result. Three patients (15%) underwent a second procedure for hardware removal. The mean arc of flexion was 112 degrees (range, 85 to 122). Mean pronation was 75 degrees (range, 60-82) and supination was 76 degrees (range, 60-80). No patients had achieved normal grip strength; the mean grip strength was 82% (range, 46-90%) compared to the uninjured side. Fifteen patients (75%) were able to return to their pre-injury level of occupation and activity. Seventeen patients (85%) were satisfied with the final outcome. We conclude that internal fixation of intraarticular fractures of the distal humerus is an effective procedure with an excellent or good functional outcome in most patient age groups. Patients have a high level of satisfaction and the majority return to their previous level of activity.