Background: This study presents the outcomes of low transcondylar fractures of the distal humerus treated by open reduction and internal fixation. Methods: Between 1996 and 2010, 263 distal humeral fractures were managed at our institution. Patients with a true low transcondylar fracture treated by open reduction and internal fixation were included. Fourteen patients form the basis of this study. Fracture fixation was achieved through a triceps-sparing approach, a triceps tongue, or an olecranon osteotomy. Internal fixation was performed with parallel plates, orthogonal plates, a single lateral plate, or a single medial plate. The clinical outcome was measured with pain levels, range of motion, and the Mayo Elbow Performance Score. Radiographs at latest follow-up were assessed for union, delayed union, nonunion, and hardware failure. Results: At most recent follow-up, 11 patients had no pain, 2 had mild pain, and 1 had moderate pain. The mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 85. The mean arch of motion was 95°. Complications included nonunion, delayed union, wound complications, deep infection, and heterotopic ossification. Discussion: Stable internal fixation of low transcondylar fractures is perceived as difficult to achieve because of the very small size of the distal fragment. However, the results of our study indicate that internal fixation of low transcondylar fractures of the distal humerus is associated with a high union rate and satisfactory clinical results. Elbow arthroplasty does not need to be considered for most patients with a low transcondylar distal humeral fracture.
- Distal humeral fracture
- Low transcondylar fracture
- Open reduction and internal fixation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine