Distal Humerus Fractures in the Elderly Population

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2017 Oct;25(10):673-683. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-15-00683.


Distal humerus fractures present complex challenges in the elderly patient. These fractures often occur in patients who are living independently but have poor bone quality and low physiologic reserve, thus complicating management decisions and treatment. The goal is a painless, functional, stable elbow that allows completion of the activities of daily living. Nonsurgical management is reserved for those who cannot tolerate surgery. Open reduction and internal fixation is the preferred choice in fractures amenable to rigid fixation and early motion. Although total elbow arthroplasty provides improved early function and similar overall outcomes in appropriately selected patients, it has the potential to cause devastating complications. With modern technology and treatment principles, as well as early definitive treatment by an experienced specialist, predictable return to function can be expected.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Elbow Joint / physiology
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / surgery*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome