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Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2013 Sep;99(5):531-41. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2013.02.004. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Promising results after the treatment of simple and complex distal humerus type C fractures by angular-stable double-plate osteosynthesis.

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  • 1Department for Trauma Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Unfallklinik Frankfurt, Friedberger Landstrasse 430, 60389 Frankfurt, Germany. Kay.Schmidt-Horlohe@bgu-frankfurt.de



The aim of this study was to evaluate the functional results and complications following open reduction and internal fixation of distal humerus type C fractures (AO classification) using an anatomically precontoured, angular-stable double-plate system.


The study is a retrospective analysis of 45 patients with 46 type C fractures. There was one C1, eight C2 and 31 C3 fractures. Twelve fractures were open (Gustilo classification). Follow-up was performed on 38 patients with 39 fractures (84%) after 14 months (range, 12-22). The mean age was 50 years (range, 14-87). Functional results were evaluated using the Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS); the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score (DASH); and range-of motion (ROM) measurements. Complications were classified as minor or major, and the postoperative and follow-up X-rays were analyzed.


Thirty-four fractures were considered stable to allow early physical therapy. With a mean MEPS of 85 points, 36 results (36/39 [92%]) were rated as excellent or good. The mean DASH was 22.5 points, and the ROM for extension-flexion was 105° (range, 50-145). Sixteen major complications (eventually coexistent: 6 × implant failure, 3 × non-union, 6 × stiffness, 2 × necrosis capitulum, 4 × failure olecranon osteotomy refixation) and two minor complications were recorded in 17 patients. These adverse events led to 14 revision surgeries (14/39 [36%]). Except for extension deficit, no statistically significant differences were found between the articular simple and articular complex fractures and when comparing the results between patients with and without a major complication.


The anatomically precontoured and angular-stable double-plate system provides sufficient immediate postoperative stability to allow early physiotherapy, even in C3-type fractures. Excellent or good results could be achieved in the vast majority of patients, independent on having suffered a complication or not. Complication rates were remarkably high, emphasizing the difficulties associated with this rare type of fracture.


Level IV Retrospective study.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


Anatomically shaped; Angular-stable fixation; Complications; Distal humerus fracture; Functional result; Osteosynthesis; Perpendicular plating

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