To evaluate the effect of surgical timing on the formation of heterotopic ossification about the elbow, 71 consecutive patients with elbow trauma requiring operative management were evaluated. Fourteen patients were excluded because they suffered from head injury, burns, or severe open injuries requiring surgery on two or more occasions. Sixteen patients were lost to follow up, leaving a group of 41 patients. The average age of patients was 35 years. The fractures involved the olecranon in 19, distal humerus in 12, and radial head/neck in 10 patients. Six of these fractures were accompanied by a dislocation. Eleven were open injuries; the remaining 30 were closed. Bone grafting was performed in nine patients. The interval between injury and surgical intervention averaged 57 hours. None (0%) of 17 patients treated within 48 hours developed grade II, III, or IV heterotopic ossification, whereas 8 (33%) of 24 patients treated after 48 hours developed grade II, III, or IV heterotopic ossification. There were no significant differences in demographic or injury parameters between these two groups. These findings suggest that fixation of unstable elbow fractures within 48 hours of injury may reduce the formation of ectopic bone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine