Comminuted radial head fractures treated with pyrocarbon prosthetic replacement

Claudia Lamas, Juan Castellanos, Ignacio Proubasta, Enrique Dominguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We had evaluated our experience in the treatment of displaced and comminuted radial head fractures with pyrocarbon radial head prosthesis. Methods: From May 2003 to July 2008, radial head prostheses were performed in 47 patients. There were 29 female and 18 male with mean age 51 (34-70 years). The follow-up was a mean of 48 (12-60 months). Fractures of the radial head have been classified by Hotchkiss. The indications for a radial head replacement were type III fractures in 27 cases, type IV fractures in ten cases, comminuted radial fracture associated with disruption of the medial collateral ligament in three cases, Monteggia variant in five cases, and Essex-Lopresti in two cases. Functional outcomes were assessed by visual analog scales (VAS) of pain, joint motion and stability, and using the Mayo Elbow Performance Index. Results: The mean VAS score for elbow pain was 1 (0.5-2.1). Patients showed an average arc of motion from 6° to 140°, with 75° of pronation and 67° of supination. By using the Mayo Elbow Performance Index, 42 patients had good/excellent results, with three fair and two poor outcomes. Complications were two implant dislocations, one elbow stiffness, one dissociation of the implant, one stem rupture, and two posterior interosseous nerve palsy that recovered from 5 to 8 weeks. We had not seen persistent instability, infection, synostosis, severe degenerative changes, or impingement. Conclusions: The treatment of comminuted radial head fracture with pyrocarbon implant usually gives an optimal result depending on the severity of the initial injury and the presence of associated lesions. The size of the prosthesis is often overestimated, causing restriction in motion due to impingement, overstuffing, or dislocations. © 2010 American Association for Hand Surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Comminuted radial head fractures
  • Pyrocarbon prosthesis
  • Radial head arthroplasty
  • Radial head prosthesis


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