Radial head prosthesis: surgical tips and tricks

Alessandro Marinelli, Enrico Guerra, Alice Ritali, Marco Cavallo, Roberto Rotini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radial head prostheses (RHP) have been developed to decrease the complications rate following a radial head resection surgery. The aim of the RHP is to replicate the physiological radiocapitellar tracking, reproducing the mechanical function of the native radial head: to stabilize the elbow and to shear the forces passing through the elbow along with the other stabilizers. The currently used RHP models try to achieve this target with three different prosthesis' strategies: (a) loose fit stem, (b) bipolar radial head or (c) anatomical radial head. Even if the radial head fixation is the preferred technique in every possible case and the resection can be still considered a possible option, in the last years there has been a growing worldwide consensus in using the radial head replacement in patients with unfixable radial head fractures, especially if associated with complex elbow instability. However, complications after a RHP are not uncommon, and their rate is raising as long as the implants number are increasing. The main difficulties are due to the implantation technique that needs to be performed with the same attention and precision used for the replacement of all the other joints, and to the concurrent treatment of the associated lesions. A personalized postoperative rehabilitation program is essential for obtaining good results and decreasing the complications rate. Concern exists for the young age of the patients that often require a RHP: personal experience and literature analysis suggest that if the clinical and radiographic results are positive after a 6-12-month follow-up, good outcomes can be also expected at a medium- or long-term follow-up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalMusculoskeletal Surgery
Issue numbersuppl 2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 9 2017


  • Complex elbow instability
  • Radial head arthroplasty
  • Radial head fracture
  • Radial head prosthesis
  • Radial head replacement
  • Surgical technique


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