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Hand Clin. 2004 Nov;20(4):475-83.

Total elbow anthroplasty and distal humerus elbow fractures.

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Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, H089 500 University Drive, P.O. Box 850, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Palvanen et al in 2003 collected data on osteoporotic fractures of the distal humerus fractures from the Finnish National Hospital Discharge Register. They defined an osteoporotic fracture of the distal humerus as a fracture occurring in persons 60 years of age or older following moderate or minimal trauma. The annual rate of incidence of these types of fractures has increased significantly, with 42 fractures reported in 1970 and 208 fractures in 2000(395% increase). The age-specific incidence rates showed a ninefold increase for women 80 years of age or older (8 in 1970 versus 75 in 2000). In the 60-69-year and 70-79-year age groups, the age adjusted increases were twofold. This presents great challenges for future orthopedists, reinforcing the ongoing need to critically analyze results of treatment for this difficult problem. Many patients over the age of 60 years can do well with traditional open reduction and internal fixation of distal humerus fractures. When patients have poor bone quality, however, preventing stable internal fixation or significant medical comorbidities, TEA should be considered. Encouraging results have been reported using TEA as a primary mode of treatment for carefully selected comminuted distal humerus fractures in elderly patients, particularly if the patient also has significant rheumatoid arthritic changes. A triceps-sparing approach is recommended so that patients may be mobilized early following surgery.

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