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Type 4 capitellum fractures: Diagnosis and treatment strategies

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Author(s): Suresh S

Journal: Indian Journal of Orthopaedics
ISSN 0019-5413

Volume: 43;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 286;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Capitellum fracture | type 4 capitellum fracture | bone fixation | bone screw

ABSTRACT
Background: Fractures of the capitellum are rare injuries of the elbow usually seen in the adolescents. This fracture is often missed in the emergency room if a proper radiograph is not available. Recent reports have described many modalities of treatment favoring headless screw for fixation. The facility for headless screw fixation, however, is not available in most centers. This paper presents the diagnosis and management of type 4 capituller fractures (Mckee) with gadgets available in a district hospital. Materials and Methods: Between 2004 and 2007 three patients with right sided type IV capetullar fracture were treated in a district hospital. There were two boys aged 15 and 17 and one 33 years old lady. In one case, the fracture was missed in the emergency room. A double arc sign in the lateral views of the X-rays of the elbow was seen in all the cases. In each case a preoperative CT scan was done and a diagnosis of Mckee type IV fracture of the capitellum was made. Under tourniquet, using extended lateral approach, open reduction and internal fixation was done using 4mm partially threaded AO cancellous screws (n=2) and 2.7 mm AO screws (n=1), under vision from posterior to anterior direction from the posterior aspect of lateral condyle of humerus avoiding articular penetration. Results: All the fractures united uneventfully. At the end of one year follow-up, two cases had excellent elbow function; implants were removed and there were no signs of AVN or arthritis. The third case had good elbow ROM at 11 months without AVN. Conclusion: Double arc sign on lateral X-rays of the elbow along with pre-operative CT scan evaluation is important to avoid a missed diagnosis and analysis of type IV capitellur fracture. Fixation with non-cannulated ordinary AO screws using extended Kocher′s lateral approach has given good results.
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