Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Clinical comparison of the over-the-top and flexor carpi ulnaris split approaches for the treatment of anteromedial facet fracture of the coronoid process

Published:March 02, 2021DOI:


      The flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU)-split approach and the over-the-top approach have been used frequently for the fixation of anteromedial facet (AMF) fractures of the coronoid process. Clinical studies have not compared functional recovery and complication rates associated with these approaches. This study aimed to compare the clinical effectiveness of the over-the-top and FCU-split approaches for the treatment of AMF fractures of the coronoid process.


      Thirty-two patients who underwent surgery for AMF fractures between January 2013 and August 2019 were divided into the FCU-split and over-the-top groups. The FCU-split approach was used from January 2013 to March 2016, and the over-the-top approach was used from April 2016 to August 2019. Bony union, radiographic signs of osteoarthritis (Broberg and Morrey classification), and development of heterotopic ossification were evaluated. Postoperative pain score (visual analog scale at 2 days after the operation), surgical time (minutes), range of motion of the elbow, elbow function (Mayo Elbow Performance Score [MEPS]), and the presence of postoperative ulnar neuropathy were also compared between the 2 groups.


      The FCU-split and over-the-top approaches were performed in 15 and 17 patients, respectively. The mean age was 46 ± 13 years (range, 22-67 years), and the mean follow-up duration was 19± 6.7 months (range, 13-38 months). All coronoid fractures had a solid osseous union during the follow-up, and no subluxation or dislocation was observed in the 2 groups. The occurrence of heterotopic ossification and the grade of post-traumatic arthritis did not differ significantly between the groups (all P > .05). There were also no significant differences between the groups in terms of postoperative pain score, range of motion, and MEPS (all P > .05). However, the surgical time was shorter for the over-the-top approach than that for the FCU-split approach (79± 23 vs. 101 ± 14, P = .008), and the surgical time was significantly associated with the fracture classification and surgical approach (P = .001 and .003, respectively). In addition, postoperative ulnar neuropathy occurred less with the over-the-top approach than with the FCU-spilt approach (5.9% vs. 46%, P = .013).


      Both the FCU-split and over-the-top approaches were appropriate for performing the buttress plate fixation for AMF fractures of the coronoid process and for restoring the elbow stability. The fixation of AMF fractures through the over-the-top approach was technically easier and had less incidence of postoperative ulnar neuropathy.

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