The effect of capitellar impaction fractures on radiocapitellar stability

Dave R. Shukla, Andrew R. Thoreson, James S. Fitzsimmons, Kai Nan An, Shawn W. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose To determine the effect of capitellar impaction fractures on radiocapitellar stability in a model that simulated a terrible triad injury. Methods Six cadaveric elbows were dissected free of skin and muscles. Tendons were preserved. The lateral collateral ligament was released and repaired (surgical control). Two sizes of capitellar impaction defects were created. After lateral collateral ligament release and repair, we then sequentially created osseous components of a terrible triad injury (partial radial head resection and coronoid fracture) through an olecranon osteotomy that was fixed with a plate. Radiocapitellar stability was recorded after the creation of each new condition. Results Significantly less force was required for radiocapitellar subluxation after the creation of 20° and 40° capitellar defects compared with the surgical control (intact capitellum). After the addition of a Mason type II radial head defect and then a coronoid defect, stability decreased significantly further. Conclusions Impaction fractures of the distal portion of the capitellum may contribute to a loss of radiocapitellar stability, particularly in an elbow fracture-dislocation. Clinical relevance Because these injuries may be unrecognized, consideration should be given to diagnosing and addressing them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-525
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Capitellum impaction
  • elbow fracture-dislocation
  • terrible triad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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