Evolution of Technology

Radial Head Arthroplasty

Radial head fractures are commonly surgically treated with either a plate and screws or a radial head replacement. The development of radial head arthroplasty has allowed another option to restore stability to the elbow. The incision for radial head surgery regardless of implant selection is commonly made on the lateral aspect of the elbow. After surgery, there is usually a short term of immobilization which is followed by progressive range of motion.

Evolution of Procedure

Radial Head Fracture Surgery

The goal of surgical intervention with radial head fractures is to restore normal elbow biomechanics and stability. Historically, this was performed with and open reduction and internal fixation. Due to advance in implant technology the radial head replacement/arthroplasty was developed. The goal of arthroplasty is to mimic the natural anatomy of the radial head prior to suffering a fracture. In restoring the radial head via arthroplasty, the goal is to achieve a stable elbow. Nonoperative treatment with early range of motion may be considered as well dependent on the patients age, injury severity, functional status prior to the injury, and multiple other factors.

Evolution of Diagnosis

Radial Head Fractures

Radial head fractures are a one of the multiple injuries that can occur in the upper extremity. Of note, radial head fractures are the most common fracture seen in the elbow. These fractures are usually seen following direct trauma to elbow following a fall and are commonly associated with elbow dislocations. Those with weaker bone (osteoporosis) have a higher chance of a radial head fractures, however this injury can occur at any age.

Radial head fractures can greatly limit and individual. Depending on the individual’s activity level proper elbow function and range of motion can be crucial. The radial head plays a role in elbow stability following a fracture elbow stability can be compromised. These fractures can be treated with either an excision of the radial head or an attempted open reduction and internal fixation. Due to recent advances, a radial head arthroplasty/replacement can be performed to create a stable elbow and allow optimal outcomes.