Background: When revision elbow arthroplasty is required in the presence of structural proximal ulnar bone loss and triceps insufficiency, structural ulnar bone-grafting and triceps reconstruction are both required to reconstruct the skeleton and to restore active extension. We have developed a technique utilizing a structural proximal ulnar allograft with its attached triceps as an allograft-prosthetic composite (APC) to provide reconstruction of the proximal ulnar bone and deficient extensor mechanism with the same allograft.
Methods: Between 2010 and 2017, the senior author performed 10 revision elbow arthroplasties using a proximal ulnar allograft with its intact triceps tendon allograft. The allograft ulna was combined with an ulnar component in an APC fashion, whereas the remaining triceps was repaired to the triceps allograft. Indications for a revision surgical procedure included aseptic loosening in 4 elbows, periprosthetic ulnar fracture with component loosening in 2 elbows, and the second stage of a 2-stage reimplantation in 4 elbows. Two elbows also required humeral APCs due to associated structural humeral bone loss. Postoperatively, all elbows were immobilized in extension for 6 weeks. The mean follow-up time was 45 months (range, 24 to 76 months).
Results: Revision elbow arthroplasty resulted in pain improvement in all elbows in a 10-point visual analog scale. The mean flexion-extension arc was 95°, the mean Mayo Elbow Performance Score was 76 points (range, 45 to 95 points), and the mean triceps strength score was 4. There were 6 reoperations: 3 for humeral loosening, 1 for deep infection, 1 for fracture of the ulnar allograft, and 1 for wound debridement and closure. For the 8 elbows with an intact ulnar reconstruction, no ulnar components were radiographically loose, and the ulnar graft was considered radiographically intact and healed in 8 elbows.
Conclusions: Reconstruction of the proximal part of the ulna and triceps in failed elbow arthroplasties with structural ulnar bone loss can be effectively accomplished using a structural proximal ulnar allograft as an APC with the preserved triceps tendon for the extensor mechanism reconstruction, but the procedure is associated with an expected high reoperation rate, as is the case in complex revision elbow arthroplasty.
Level of evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.