Shear fractures of the distal humerus: Is the use of intra-articular screws a safe treatment?

Musculoskeletal surgery

PubMedID: 26514141

Tarallo L, Mugnai R, Adani R, Zambianchi F, Costanzini CA, Catani F. Shear fractures of the distal humerus: Is the use of intra-articular screws a safe treatment?. Musculoskelet Surg. 2015;.
Coronal shear fractures of the distal humerus are uncommon injuries and are not exempt from complications. The aim of this research is to evaluate the possible advantages and drawbacks using cannulated compression headless screws.

We performed a prospective study including all the consecutive patients who were treated with cannulated screws for coronal shear fractures of the distal humerus between 2010 and 2013. Following the Dubberley's classification, three patients were type 1A, one patient was 1B, three patients were 2B, and one patient was 3B. The mean follow-up was 30 months. The clinical and radiological evaluation included analysis of passive range of motion, functional outcome, radiological evaluation of fracture healing and reduction maintenance, and the occurrence of possible adverse events.

All fractures healed, and radiographic union was observed at an average of 3 months. The average elbow range of motion was 125°, with 125° of flexion and 20 of extension. According to the Broberg and Morrey score, there were four excellent and four good results. Using the Mayo Elbow Performance Index, five cases achieved excellent scores and three reported good results. Adverse events reported in three cases were as follows: heterotopic ossification, complex regional pain syndrome and delayed lateral collateral ligament disruption.

The use of cannulated compression headless screws has given satisfactory results, allowing a strong inter-fragmentary compression, early mobilization, with high union rates and good elbow function. However, patients should be counseled about the high proportion of adverse events following these injuries.