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Morphology of Proximal Ulna Bare Area: A Guide for Olecranon Osteotomy

Published:September 26, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.07.010

      Purpose

      Olecranon osteotomy is commonly used to obtain access to the distal humerus for fracture fixation. The goal of this study was to accurately describe the anatomy of the bare area to minimize articular cartilage damage while performing olecranon osteotomies.

      Methods

      Twenty cadaveric ulnae were denuded to expose the bare area. Laser surface mapping was used to create 3-dimensional models, and the nonarticular portions of the ulnae were digitally measured.

      Results

      The morphology of the bare area from all aspects of the proximal ulna was defined. The central bare area was consistent in its location, 4.9 ± 1.5 mm distal to the deepest portion of the trochlear notch and 23.2 ± 2.3 mm distal to the olecranon tip. The maximum chevron osteotomy apical angle to stay within the bare area averaged 110° ± 11.8°. However, there was little tolerance for error without the risk of violating the articular cartilage. With transverse osteotomy, averaging 18° ± 10.6° in the coronal plane, there is less risk of damaging the articular cartilage.

      Conclusions

      Transverse osteotomy perpendicular to the posterior surface of the ulna aiming at the visible bare area on the medial and lateral sides of the greater sigmoid notch may reduce the chances of violating the nonvisible articular cartilage of the proximal ulna. Based on the findings of this study, if chevron osteotomy is used, a shallow apex distal angle of more than 110° is recommended.

      Clinical relevance

      This study provides intraoperative landmarks to guide surgeons performing olecranon osteotomies to stay within the bare area.

      Key words

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