Radial head fractures

R. P. van Riet*, M. P.J. van den Bekerom, A. Van Tongel, C. Spross, R. Barco, A. C. Watts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The shape and size of the radial head is highly variable but correlates to the contralateral side. The radial head is a secondary stabilizer to valgus stress and provides lateral stability. The modified Mason–Hotchkiss classification is the most commonly used and describes three types, depending on the number of fragments and their displacement. Type 1 fractures are typically treated conservatively. Surgical reduction and fixation are recommended for type 2 fractures, if there is a mechanical block to motion. This can be done arthroscopically or open. Controversy exists for two-part fractures with >2 mm and <5 mm displacement, without a mechanical bloc as good results have been published with conservative treatment. Type 3 fractures are often treated with radial head replacement. Although radial head resection is also an option as long-term results have been shown to be favourable. Radial head arthroplasty is recommended in type 3 fractures with ligamentous injury or proximal ulna fractures. Failure of primary radial head replacement may be due to several factors. Identification of the cause of failure is essential. Failed radial head arthroplasty can be treated by implant removal alone, interposition arthroplasty, revision radial head replacement either as a single stage or two-stage procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalShoulder and Elbow
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • arthroscopy
  • elbow
  • fracture
  • instability
  • prosthesis
  • radial head
  • radius


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