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Upper Limb

Primary semi-constrained arthroplasty for chronic fracture-dislocations of the elbow

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We present six patients with chronic dislocation of the elbow who were treated by primary semiconstrained total elbow arthroplasty. All were women with a mean age of 65 years (51 to 76), the mean interval between dislocation and surgery was 17 weeks (5 to 52) and the mean follow-up 58 months (24 to 123).

The most dramatic improvement was in function. The mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon score was 5.2 times better (p < 0.001) and the mean total range of movement increased from 33° to 121° (p < 0.001) after operation. Three patients developed wear of polyethylene. One required revision for a periprosthetic fracture, and another required a bushing exchange.

Primary semiconstrained elbow arthroplasty provides significant, predictable functional improvement. Potential solutions for wear of polyethylene include a different operative technique or design of implant. Despite the high incidence of such wear, total elbow arthroplasty should be considered as a viable treatment option for chronic dislocation of the elbow in elderly patients.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr M. A. Mighell; e-mail: mmighell@floridaortho.com

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