Purpose: Inconsistent outcomes have been reported in several prior studies of elderly patients with distal humerus fractures treated with open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). We evaluated the outcomes of ORIF using modern precontoured plates exclusively in a parallel orientation. Methods: A retrospective review was performed to identify the patients aged over 65 years who sustained an isolated distal humerus fracture between 2015 and 2019. We identified 22 patients who underwent distal humerus ORIF using parallel, precontoured locking plates. Electronic medical records were reviewed for demographic characteristics, physical examination findings, and radiographic data. Outcomes were assessed with Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand scores and Mayo Elbow Performance scores. Complications were evaluated by a review of the patient's medical record and postoperative radiographs. Results: Of the included patients, 18 were women and 4 were men; the average age was 78 years (SD, 8.5 years), and the patients were followed for an average of 33 months. The sample consisted of 19 AO type C, 1 type B, and 2 type A fractures. At the final follow-up, the mean arc of total elbow flexion was 107° (SD, 18.9°; range 40° to 130°), with mean elbow flexion of 129° (SD, 11.7°; range, 120° to 140°) and mean extension of 22° (SD, 12.9°; range 0° to 90°). The mean Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 19 (SD, 14.4), and the mean Mayo Elbow Performance score was 86 (SD, 10.2). Complications occurred in 5 (23%) patients, requiring 4 subsequent surgeries, of which 1 was a conversion to total elbow arthroplasty. Conclusions: Older patients who underwent ORIF of the distal humerus using a parallel construct demonstrated good functional outcomes and similar complications to those in previously reported studies. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.
- distal humerus fracture
- parallel plate