Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how fellowship training influences the treatment of distal humerus fractures with either total elbow arthroplasty (TEA) or open reduction internal fixation (ORIF). Methods: The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) Part II Examination Database was queried for all orthopaedic surgeons who sat for the Part II examination between the years 2003-2019. Inclusion criteria were ORIF or TEA cases, selected by individual CPT codes for each procedure, and patients of at least age 65 years who sustained acute distal humerus fractures. Analysis was performed for each type of fellowship training completed, total number of procedures performed, the type of procedure performed, patient demographics, and any complications. Results: There were 149 TEAs and 1306 ORIFs performed for distal humerus fractures between the exam years of 2003-2019. The proportion of TEA to ORIF increased from 7.6% to 11.0%. Partitioned by fellowship training, Hand and Upper Extremity surgeons performed 69 (17.4%) TEAs and 328 (82.6%) ORIFs, Shoulder and Elbow surgeons performed 34 (29.6%) TEAs and 81 (70.4%) ORIFs, Sports Medicine surgeons performed 14 (5.1%) TEAs and 263 (94.6%) ORIFs, and Trauma surgeons performed 16 (4.2%) TEAs and 366 (95.8%) ORIFs. Hand and Upper Extremity surgeons treated the most distal humerus fractures (397, 27.3%), followed by Trauma surgeons (382, 26.3%). Conclusion: Our data suggests that fellowship training does influence the surgical decision-making process for treating distal humerus fractures in elderly populations. Hand and Upper Extremity surgeons performed the greatest number of TEA for acute distal humerus fractures, followed by Shoulder and Elbow surgeons. Conversely, trauma surgeons performed the lowest proportion of TEA to ORIF. Level of Evidence: III.
- American board of orthopaedic surgery
- Distal humerus fracture
- Open reduction internal fixation
- Total elbow arthroplasty