Bone Joint J 2015;97-B:1377–84.

Hemiarthroplasty for irreparable distal humeral fractures

J. Nestorson, C. Ekholm, M. Etzner, L. Adolfsson

We report our experience of performing an elbow hemiarthroplasty in the treatment of comminuted distal humeral fractures in the elderly patients.


A cohort of 42 patients (three men and 39 women, mean age 72; 56 to 84) were reviewed at a mean of 34.3 months (24 to 61) after surgery. Functional outcome was measured with the Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS) and range of movement. The disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand questionnaire (DASH) was used as a patient rated evaluation. Complications and ulnar nerve function were recorded. Plain radiographs were obtained to assess prosthetic loosening, olecranon wear and heterotopic bone formation.


The mean extension deficit was 23.5° (0° to 60°) and mean flexion was 126.8° (90° to 145°) giving a mean arc of 105.5° (60° to 145°). The mean MEPS was 90 (50 to 100) and a mean DASH score of 20 (0 to 63). Four patients had additional surgery for limited range of movement and one for partial instability. One elbow was revised due to loosening, two patients had sensory ulnar nerve symptoms, and radiographic signs of mild olecranon wear was noted in five patients.


Elbow hemiarthroplasty for comminuted intra-articular distal humeral fractures produces reliable medium-term results with functional outcome and complication rates, comparable with open reduction and internal fixation and total elbow arthroplasty.

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