Coronoid Process and Radial Head as Posterolateral Rotatory Stabilizers of the Elbow

Schneeberger, Albert G.; Sadowski, Michel M.; Jacob, Hilaire A. C.
May 2004
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;May2004, Vol. 86-A Issue 5, p975
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of the radial head and the coronoid process as posterolateral rotatory stabilizers of the elbow and to determine the stabilizing effect of radial head replacement and coronoid reconstruction. The posterolateral rotatory laxity averaged 5.4° in the intact elbows. The surgical approach used in this study insignificantly increased the mean laxity to 9°. Excision of the radial head in an elbow with intact collateral ligaments caused a mean posterolateral rotatory laxity of 18.6° (p < 0.0001). Additional removal of 30% of the height of the coronoid fully destabilized the elbows, always resulting in ulnohumeral dislocation despite intact ligaments. Implantation of a rigid radial head prosthesis stabilized the elbows. However, a mean laxity of 16.9° persisted after insertion of a floating prosthesis (p < 0.0001). The elbows with a defect of 50% or 70% of the coronoid, loss of the radial head, and intact ligaments could not be stabilized by radial head replacement alone, but additional coronoid reconstruction restored stability. The results of this study suggest that the coronoid and the radial head contribute significantly to posterolateral rotatory stability. Replacement of the radial head with a rigid implant seems to restore stability better than does replacement with a floating prosthesis. Elbows with a defect of ≥50% of the coronoid combined with a radial head defect can be stabilized with coronoid reconstruction and radial head replacement. Additional, clinical studies are necessary to validate these experimental findings.


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