The treatment of isolated ulnar fractures in adults: a systematic review.
Mackay D., Wood L., Rangan A.
The treatment of isolated ulnar fractures remains controversial, with different authors recommending both surgical and non-surgical management. We undertook a systematic review of the current literature in order to assess whether any conclusions can be drawn. A total of 33 series involving 1876 patients were identified as suitable for analysis. Data from these papers were combined by method of treatment. The results of the non-operative treatment of minimally displaced ulnar fractures with a stable configuration were uniformly good. Below elbow plaster cast, functional brace and early mobilisation all produced similar results. An above elbow cast was unnecessarily restrictive. To preserve forearm rotation, widely displaced or unstable fractures are best treated by open reduction and internal fixation. Guidelines based on cadaveric and clinical studies exist to predict fracture stability and the extent of acceptable displacement. However, these have not been verified in clinical studies. Compression plate fixation gave reliable results in these cases. Other methods lacked sufficient published data to be recommended.