A paradigm shift in the surgical reconstruction of extra-articular distal humeral fractures: Single-column plating

Gregory M. Meloy, Matthew A. Mormino, Peter A. Siska, Ivan S. Tarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: The study aimed (1) to examine if there are equivalent results in terms of union, alignment and elbow functionally comparing single- to dual-column plating of AO/OTA 13A2 and A3 distal humeral fractures and (2) if there are more implant-related complications in patients managed with bicolumnar plating compared to single-column plate fixation. Design: This was a multi-centred retrospective comparative study. Setting: The study was conducted at two academic level 1 trauma centres. Patients/participants: A total of 105 patients were identified to have surgical management of extra-articular distal humeral fractures Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen/Orthopaedic Trauma Association (AO/OTA) 13A2 and AO/OTA 13A3). Intervention: Patients were treated with traditional dual-column plating or a single-column posterolateral small-fragment pre-contoured locking plate used as a neutralisation device with at least five screws in the short distal segment. Main outcome measurements: The patients' elbow functionality was assessed in terms of range of motion, union and alignment. In addition, the rate of complications between the groups including radial nerve palsy, implant-related complications (painful prominence and/or ulnar nerve neuritis) and elbow stiffness were compared. Results: Patients treated with single-column plating had similar union rates and alignment. However, single-column plating resulted in a significantly better range of motion with less complications. Conclusions: The current study suggests that exposure/instrumentation of only the lateral column is a reliable and preferred technique. This technique allows for comparable union rates and alignment with increased elbow functionality and decreased number of complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1620-1624
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Distal humeral fracture
  • Dual-column plating
  • Extra-articular
  • Single-column plating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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