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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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Department for Trauma Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Unfallklinik Frankfurt, Friedberger Landstrasse 430, 60389 Frankfurt, Germany.



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.


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

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