Exposure of the head of the radius using the Wrightington approach

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2006 Sep;88(9):1178-82. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.88B9.17659.


Surgical access to the head of the radius is usually performed through a lateral approach. We present an alternative technique through a modified posterior approach which was developed following dissections of 22 human cadavers. An osteotomy of the supinator tuberosity was performed and reflected as a single unit with the attached annular ligament. Excellent exposure of the head of the radius was achieved, replacement of the head was undertaken and the osteotomy site repaired. The elbows were stable and had a full range of movement. The approach was then carried out on 13 patients for elective replacement of the head and was found to be safe and reproducible. In the patient group all osteotomies united, the elbows were stable and had an improved range of supination and pronation. There was no change in flexion and extension of the elbow. Complications included a haematoma and a reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The modified posterior approach provides excellent access to the head and neck of the radius, gives good stability of the elbow and allows early mobilisation of the joint.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / instrumentation
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / methods*
  • Bone Screws
  • Cadaver
  • Elbow Joint / physiopathology
  • Elbow Joint / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Prosthesis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteotomy / methods
  • Pain / surgery
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Radius / surgery*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Wrist Joint / physiopathology