Elbow Fixators Radial Deficiency

Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency

Bayne and Klug wrote what is now a classic scientific article on radial longitudinal deficiency in 1987 Classic Article.  This article described 4 types of radial longitudinal deficiency:

Type 1- Short distal radius
Type 2- Radius in miniature (short proximal and distal)
Type 3- Absent distal radius
Type 4- Absent entire radius

More recently, we added a Type 5- which is a Type 4 deficiency + an absence of the proximal humerus- Type 5 article and a James, McCarroll and Manske added the Type 0 and N Modified Classification.

Perhaps the least common type of radial longitudinal deficiency is the Type 2- Radius in Miniature. Because it is uncommon, treatment is not clearcut.  Here is one example of such a case.

Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency.  Note the very short radius bone.

In this patient, we lengthened the radius in an attempt to better balance the wrist on the forearm bones. Unfortunately, we did not obtain as much length as we hoped but the length we did obtain stood the test of time over the next 12+ years.  The wrist is balanced and the pollicization is doing well.

2 years after lengthening surgery for Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency

4 years after lengthening surgery for Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency

12 years after lengthening surgery for Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency.

Here are clinical pictures of the patient at 12 years after surgery for Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency.  There are several interesting features. First, the ulna has a big bow which makes it look like the elbow does not straighten fully (it does). Second, the wrist has remained relatively balanced- we will continue to follow him and with growth there may be a need to lengthen the bone a second time.  This time, we would plan an external fixator lengthening- this option was not possible due to the young age at the time of the first surgery.  There is also a pollicization which has helped function.  

Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency. 12 years after surgery.  Note relatively balanced wrist and pollicization.

Type 2 Radial Longitudinal Deficiency.  Elbow straight (it doesn’t look straight as the ulna bone is curved (bowed).

Charles A. Goldfarb, MD
My Bio at Washington University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *