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Independent Locking Screws for Articular Fragment Fixation in the Elbow

Felstead, Alisdair J., MBBS, MSc, MRCS; Phadnis, Joideep, FRCS(Tr&Orth)

Techniques in Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery: March 2019 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 33–37
doi: 10.1097/BTH.0000000000000220

Articular fractures of the elbow require direct reduction and interfragmentary fixation to restore anatomic stability. The fragments are often small, with limited bone stock, hence implants are often placed through the articular surface to gain maximal purchase. Traditional techniques involve the use of countersunk cortical screws or cannulated headless compression screws. We describe a technique in which small locking screws are used independently from a plate as a substitute for headless or other traditional screws. This method of fixation negates the need for countersinking the screw head, or over drilling a guide wire, and enables the use of smaller diameter screws which provide excellent purchase in very small fragments. Independent locking screws can be considered for any fracture that previously would have been amenable to cortical or headless compression screw fixation. Locking screws from several manufacturers have been used with equal success. Screws can be used in a unicortical manner if necessary, as the grip comes from engaging the subchondral bone with the locking thread. This technique has been used on 35 consecutive articular elbow fractures with a minimum 6-month follow-up. All fractures have achieved bony union within this period, and there have been no loss of fixations or requirement for further surgeries to remove prominent metalwork.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, Brighton, UK

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Joideep Phadnis, FRCS, (Tr&Orth), Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5BE, UK. E-mail:

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