Anterior elbow release for post-traumatic flexion contractures in patients 21 years or younger.
HYPOTHESIS AND BACKGROUND: An elbow contracture in a young person can be a devastating problem. Significant contractures will lead to functional loss of the extremity. Appropriately performed contracture release can have profound implications on the overall well-being of the patient. The purpose of this study was to report improvements in sagittal-plane range of motion and the complication rate following an anterior elbow release for flexion contractures in patients 21 years or younger. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of 27 patients with a median age of 16.8 years who were treated surgically for elbow flexion contracture with an anterior approach. Follow-up was possible in 18 of these patients at an average of 31 months. An anterior approach was performed in all 18 patients, with 4 patients undergoing an additional posterior incision to address posterior structures limiting extension. RESULTS: Elbow extension improved by an average of 35°, from -54° to -19°. The mean total arc of elbow motion improved by 37°, from 65° to 102°. Two complications occurred: traction-related neurapraxia of the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve and transient neurapraxia of the posterior interosseous nerve. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Elbow contracture release through an anterior approach is an acceptable surgical option. Significant improvement is obtained with a low risk of complications.
Aldridge, JM; Katt, B; Rizzo, M; Beredjiklian, P; Urbaniak, JR
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