Absorbable implants in the treatment of distal humeral fractures in adolescents and adults.

Published online: Dec 30 1996

K Pelto-Vasenius, E Hirvensalo, and P Rokkanen.

Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


Between 1986 and 1994, 57 consecutive patients with a distal humeral fracture were treated operatively using absorbable implants, 15 of them were treated by combining absorbable pins or screws with metallic implants. According to the AO/ASIF system, there were 13 Type A, 21 Type B and 10 Type C fractures. Thirteen patients were lost to follow-up. The clinical outcome was reviewed in 44 patients with an average follow-up time of 4.6 years. The functional results by Broberg and Morrey were excellent or good in 36 (81%), fair in three (6,8%) and poor in five (11,2%) patients. Twenty-nine (66%) patients indicated their satisfaction with the outcome of the treatment. The elderly had more severely unstable fractures and more unfavourable results than younger patients. A postoperative redisplacement was seen in 11 (25%) patients and infection in seven (16%) patients. An abacterial foreign-body reaction occurred in four (9,1%) patients. The results were favourable in the noncomminuted epicondylar and condylar fractures of the distal humerus as well as in the humeral capitellum fractures. The results were unsatisfactory in the comminuted intraaticular distal humeral fractures.