Bone and Joint Institute

The effect of stem fit on the radiocapitellar contact mechanics of a metallic axisymmetric radial head hemiarthroplasty: is loose fit better than rigidly fixed?

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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery





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© 2019 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees Background: Radial head hemiarthroplasty is commonly used to manage comminuted displaced fractures. Regarding implant fixation, current designs vary, with some prostheses aiming to achieve a tight “fixed” fit and others using a smooth stem with an over-reamed “loose” fit. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of radial head hemiarthroplasty stem fit on radiocapitellar contact using a finite element model that simulated both fixed (size-for-size) and loose (1-, 2-, and 3-mm over-reamed) stem fits. It was hypothesized that a loose stem fit would improve radiocapitellar contact mechanics, with an increased contact area and decreased contact stress, by allowing the implant to find its “optimal” position with respect to the capitellum. Methods: Finite element models of the elbow were produced to compare the effects of stem fit on radiocapitellar contact of a metallic axisymmetric radial head implant. Radiocapitellar contact mechanics (contact area and maximum contact stress) were computed for 0°, 45°, 90°, and 135° of elbow flexion with the forearm in neutral rotation, pronation, and supination. Results: The data suggest that the loose smooth stem radial head implant may be functioning like a bipolar implant in optimizing radiocapitellar contact. Over-reaming of 3 mm produced a larger amount of stress concentration on the capitellum, suggesting there may be a limit to how loose a smooth stem implant should be implanted. Conclusions: The loose 1 to 2 mm over-reamed stem provided optimal contact mechanics of the metallic axisymmetric radial head implant compared with the fixed stem.

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