Radial Head and Neck Fractures: Functional Results and Predictors of Outcome
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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to determine the functional outcomes and predictive factors of radial head and neck fractures. METHODS: Over an 18-month period, we performed a prospective study of 237 consecutive patients with a radiographically confirmed proximal radial fracture (156 radial head and 81 radial neck). Follow-up was carried out over a 1-year period using clinical and radiologic assessment, including the Mayo Elbow Score (MES). Multivariate regression analysis was used to determine significant predictors of outcome according to the MES. RESULTS: Of the 237 patients enrolled in the study, 201 (84.8%) attended for review, with a mean age of 44 years (range, 16-83 years; standard deviation, 17.3). One hundred eighty-seven (93%) patients achieved excellent or good MESs. The mean MES for Mason type-I (n = 103) and type-II (n = 82) fractures was excellent, with only two patients undergoing surgical intervention. For Mason type-III (n = 11) and type-IV (n = 5) fractures, the flexion arc, forearm rotation arc, and MES in the nonoperatively treated patients were not significantly different (all p ≥ 0.05) from those managed operatively. Regression analysis revealed that increasing age, increasing fracture complexity according to the AO-OTA classification, increasing radiographic comminution, and operative treatment choice were independently significant predictors of a poorer outcome (all p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: A majority of radial head and neck fractures can be treated nonoperatively, achieving excellent or good results. Age, fracture classification, radiographic comminution, and treatment choice are important factors that determine recovery.
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