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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014 May;23(5):701-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2014.01.017.

Results of parallel plate fixation of comminuted intra-articular distal humeral fractures.

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Division of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Department of Surgery, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland. Electronic address:
Division of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Department of Surgery, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.



This study investigated the results of parallel plate fixation of comminuted distal humeral fractures in a consecutive series of patients.


Parallel plate fixation was used in 47 patients (30 women), mean age 60 years (range 18-98 years), with Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO) type C distal humeral fractures during 2007 to 2011. Medical records and radiographs were retrospectively assessed. Thirty-five patients completed Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) outcome measure and the RAND Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) Health Survey. Twenty-seven patients underwent clinical examination, Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS) rating, and radiography after 3.9 years (range, 1.6-7.9 years) of follow-up.


The mean flexion arc was lower on the affected side vs the unaffected elbow (123° vs 140°, P = .03). The mean MEPS was 88; the result was excellent in 14, good in 8, fair in 3, and poor in 2 patients. DASH results indicated slight impairment of upper extremity function compared with the reference value (26 vs 10, P = .001). RAND SF-36 scores indicated normal quality of life compared with reference values from the Finnish population. Forty-four fractures united uneventfully. One case each of nonunion and malunion occurred. One olecranon osteotomy failed to unite. There were 3 cases of infection. Prominent hardware was a common late problem, and plates often required removal. The complication rate was 7 of 47 (15%); 4 of these patients (9%) required reoperation. The hardware removal rate was 13 of 47 (28%).


Parallel plate fixation is an effective method to treat comminuted distal humeral fractures. Good elbow function can be restored in most cases with minor impairments that do not worsen quality of life.


Distal humeral fractures; comminuted fractures; complications; elbow function; intra-articular fractures; plate fixation; treatment outcome

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