Introduction: Radiocapitellar joint arthroplasty is a commonly performed procedure, which often leads to early failure or instability. Few studies assess the effect of radiocapitellar joint arthroplasty on the ulnohumeral joint. We hypothesized that static forces of contact (compressing cartilage, or cartilage relaxation contact force) would reveal the effect of varying radial head implant size and elbow position on the ulnohumeral joint. Methods: A minimally–invasive method of measuring cartilage relaxation contact force was utilized in 10 fresh-frozen human cadaveric specimens that did not require significant dissection or intraarticular sensor placement. Specimens were rigidly fixed in various positions of elbow flexion and forearm pronosupination with increasing radial head implant lengths. Uniaxial distracting forces were applied and displacement was repeatedly measured with resultant best-fit polynomial curves to determine inflections corresponding to the force required to overcome static cartilage relaxation as in previous work. Findings: Baseline mean (intra-cadaver) cartilage relaxation contact force was 11.8 N (standard error of the mean = 0.3) at 90° of elbow flexion and neutral rotation. There was little variation within specimens (Intraclass correlation coefficient > 0.94). Cartilage relaxation contact force increased at the ulnohumeral joint with radial head implant overstuffing (> 4 mm, P < 0.05) and elbow flexion (120°, P < 0.001). Pronosupination altered cartilage relaxation contact force in an implant-length independent manner (P < 0.05). Interpretation: Radiocapitellar joint arthroplasty implant length and elbow joint position independently contribute to increased cartilage relaxation contact force at the ulnohumeral joint. This further supports attempts at anatomic reconstruction of the radiocapitellar joint to prevent pathologic ulnohumeral joint loading.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine