Background: Periprosthetic fractures are among the most challenging complications of elbow arthroplasty, and published information about the outcome of treatment is limited. The purpose of the present study was to determine the results of implant revision and strut allograft augmentation for the treatment of humeral periprosthetic fractures that occur around a loose humeral component.
Methods: Between 1991 and 1999, eleven periprosthetic fractures that occurred around a loose humeral component were treated with cortical strut allograft augmentation and revision arthroplasty with use of a Coonrad-Morrey semiconstrained implant. Six fractures occurred after a primary arthroplasty, and five occurred after a revision arthroplasty. Two parallel strut grafts were used for fracture fixation in most cases. Patients were followed for an average of three years (range, nine months to 7.8 years) and were evaluated clinically and radiographically.
Results: Clinical and radiographic fracture union was obtained in ten of the eleven patients. One patient required revision surgery because of aseptic loosening of the humeral component seven years and nine months after fracture union; there were no other implant failures. Complications included one additional nondisplaced humeral periprosthetic fracture after surgery that failed to heal with closed treatment, one olecranon fracture, one permanent ulnar nerve injury, and one case of triceps insufficiency. At the time of the most recent follow-up, seven of the eight patients with an intact reconstruction had a functional arc of motion and no or slight pain and one had limited motion and moderate pain.
Conclusions: Periprosthetic humeral fractures that are associated with a loose humeral component can be effectively treated with revision elbow arthroplasty and strut allograft augmentation. The technique is associated with a high rate of fracture union, implant survival, and satisfactory clinical results. However, the complication rate is substantial.