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The Surgical Treatment of Periprosthetic Elbow Fractures Around the Ulnar Stem Following Semiconstrained Total Elbow Arthroplasty
Antonio M. Foruria, MD, PhD1; Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, MD, PhD1; Luke S. Oh, MD1; Robert A. Adams, MA, OPA-C1; Bernard F. Morrey, MD1
1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street S.W., Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail address for J. Sanchez-Sotelo: Sanchezsotelo.joaquin@mayo.edu
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Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

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Investigation performed at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Aug 03;93(15):1399-1407. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.00102
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Limited information exists related to the treatment of periprosthetic fractures of the ulna after semiconstrained elbow arthroplasty. Our goals were to characterize the clinical and radiographic features of periprosthetic fractures around the stem of a loose ulnar component and to determine the outcomes after surgical treatment.


Between 1980 and 2008, thirty consecutive periprosthetic fractures around the ulnar stem were treated surgically at our institution. Eighteen fractures occurred after primary arthroplasty, and twelve occurred after revision arthroplasty. The mean time between the index arthroplasty and the fracture was eight years. All ulnar components were loose. Ulnar bone loss was moderate in fourteen elbows and severe in sixteen. Surgical reconstruction included revision of the ulnar component in all cases. Fracture fixation was achieved with a longer stemmed implant only in two elbows. Strut allografts were used in twenty elbows, with additional impaction graft augmentation in eight of them. Three additional elbows were revised with impaction grafting alone, and five were reconstructed with an allograft ulnar prosthetic composite. Seven patients were lost to follow-up, one died, and one was managed with conversion to a resection arthroplasty following a deep infection. The remaining twenty-one patients were followed for a mean of 4.9 ± 2.6 years.


At the time of the most recent follow-up, eighteen patients reported no pain or mild pain and three patients reported moderate pain. The mean arc of elbow flexion and extension was 112°. The Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 82 points (with fifteen good or excellent results and six fair or poor results). Fracture-healing was achieved in the twenty-one followed patients. Complications included three deep infections, one superficial infection, one case of ulnar component loosening, and one case of transient dysfunction of both the median and radial nerves.


Periprosthetic ulnar fractures around the stem of a loose ulnar component after total elbow arthroplasty usually combine implant loosening and severe bone loss. Revision of the ulnar component may require additional strut allografts, allograft-prosthetic composites, or impaction grafting. Satisfactory outcomes were seen after the majority of revisions; however, deep infections and component loosening continue to be serious complications.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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