Surgical treatment of arthrogryposis of the elbow

A. Van Heest, P. M. Waters, B. P. Simmons

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49 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to analyze our results of surgical treatment of arthrogryposis of the elbow and to compare our tendon transfer results using range of motion (ROM) criteria versus functional use criteria. Eighteen tendon transfers for elbow flexion in 14 children with arthrogryposis with an average follow-up period of 4 years (range, 1-14 years) and 6 elbow capsulotomies with triceps lengthening in 6 children with arthrogryposis with an average follow-up period of 5 years (range, 2-9 years) were evaluated. Each child was assessed by a questionnaire regarding functional use of the upper extremity, physical examination of ROM and strength, and a videotaped activities of daily living evaluation. Tendon transfer results were classified and compared using 2 methods of evaluation: postoperative strength and ROM and effective functional use of the tendon transfer to perform activities of daily living. The 6 elbow capsulotomies improved from an average preoperative arc of 17°of motion (average extension, -2°; average flexion, 19°) to an average final follow-up arc of 67°(average extension, -25°; average flexion, 92°). The 18 tendon transfers evaluated by strength and ROM criteria showed 9 triceps to biceps transfers in 9 arms (7 good, 1 fair, and 1 poor), 5 pectoralis to biceps transfers in 4 arms (1 good, 3 fair, and 1 poor), and 4 latissimus dorsi to biceps transfers in 3 arms (2 good and 2 fair). Evaluation by functional use criteria gave the same result in 13 transfers and downgraded the result in 5; the downgraded results were due to resultant flexion contracture or limited functional use because the transfer was in the nondominant arm. Based on this review, optimal surgical candidates for tendon transfer are children older than 4 years, who have full passive ROM of the elbow in the dominant arm, and at least grade 4 strength of the muscle to be transferred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1070
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


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