Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Orthop Trauma. 2006 Jul;20(6):405-9.

Open elbow arthrolysis for posttraumatic elbow stiffness.

Author information

Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University Hospital of Lausanne, Avenue Pierre-Decker 4, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.



The elbow joint is vulnerable to stiffness, especially after trauma. The aim of this study was to evaluate the results of open arthrolysis for posttraumatic elbow stiffness.


Cohort retrospective study.


Eighteen consecutive patients were evaluated by an independent observer at an average of 16 months (6 to 43) after open elbow arthrolysis was performed for posttraumatic stiffness. Initial traumas were: isolated fractures (11) or dislocation (1) and complex fracture-dislocations (6). Initial treatments were: nonoperative (3), radial head resection (1), and ORIF (14). Patients presented predominantly with mixed contractures (combined extrinsic and intrinsic contractures).


Open elbow arthrolysis.


Elbow function and patient satisfaction were the principal outcome measures. At follow-up European Society for Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (SECEC) elbow scores were calculated.


Three patients had minor postoperative complications: 1 partial wound dehiscence, 1 subcutaneous infection, and one seroma. None of these complications influenced the final result clinically. The mean total increase in range of motion was 40 degrees (13 to 112 degrees), with a mean gain in flexion of 14 degrees (0 to 45 degrees) and 26 degrees in extension (5 to 67 degrees). No patient showed signs of elbow instability. There was no radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis progression at follow-up. We did not find any correlations between the type of stiffness, the approaches used, and the results. However, patients with the greatest preoperative stiffness had significantly better improvement of mobility (P<0.001). The best results were obtained in patients who had arthrolysis done within 1 year after the initial trauma (P=0.008). The mean SECEC scores were 88 (52 to 100) for the injured elbows, and 96 (88 to 100) for the contralateral elbows.


Open elbow arthrolysis for patients with posttraumatic stiffness improves joint function and provides patient satisfaction. The best results, in terms of gain of motion and patient satisfaction, were obtained in patients with severe stiffness who had operations within the first year after initial trauma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center