Radial Head Arthroplasty in the Active Duty Military Service Member With Minimum 2-Year Follow-Up

John C. Dunn, Nicholas A. Kusnezov, Logan R. Koehler*, Emmanuel D. Eisenstein, Kelly G. Kilcoyne, Justin D. Orr, Justin S. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose Radial head arthroplasty (RHA) is a viable treatment for complex radial head fracture. Whereas elbow stability and function is typically restored at short- to mid-term follow-up, the outcome in higher-demand populations is not well defined. We sought to characterize the functional and occupational outcomes following RHA in an active duty military population with intense upper extremity demands. Methods We retrospectively reviewed the records of all U.S. military service members undergoing primary RHA from 2010 and 2013 with a minimum of 2-year follow-up. Patient-based, injury-related, and surgical variables were extracted from the military-wide electronic medical record. Functional and occupational outcomes including pain, and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire were recorded. The primary outcomes of interest were the rate and level of return to upper extremity activity. Secondary outcome measures included return to duty, complications, and revision surgery. Results Nineteen patients were included with average age 31 years and median 37 months’ follow-up. Ten were Mason III, 6 were part of a terrible triad injury, and the remainder were fracture-dislocations. At an average follow-up of 3.7 years, 15 patients returned to active military duty, and 9 resumed their regular upper extremity military function. At the time of final follow-up, the average DASH score was 13. Seven patients returned to their usual level of sport and exercise, 6 at a reduced level, and 6 did not resume physical exercises secondary to pain or stiffness. Sixteen adverse outcomes among 14 patients included symptomatic heterotopic ossification (5 of 19) and neurological sequelae (4 of 19). Three elected to have a revision procedure at an average of 13 months for heterotopic ossification or loosening. Conclusions Among active patients with radial head fractures treated with RHA, three-quarters will return to active duty military service, push-ups, and sport; however, half may report an adverse outcome unrelated to the prosthesis and only about half of patients will return to their preinjury level of function. Type of study/level of evidence Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660.e1-660.e7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Radial head fracture
  • military
  • radial head arthroplasty


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