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Treatment of osteoarthritis of the elbow: a comparison of open and arthroscopic debridement.

Authors: Cohen AP, Redden JF, Stanley D

References: Arthroscopy. 2000 Oct;16(7):701-6.

Abstract
PURPOSE: To assess the effectiveness of open and minimally invasive techniques in the debridement of osteoarthritis of the elbow, we compared the Outerbridge-Kashiwagi (O-K) procedure with an arthroscopic modification in which arthroscopic debridement and fenestration of the olecranon fossa was performed. TYPE OF STUDY: The study took the form of a nonrandomized control trial in which subjects were allocated to a treatment depending on the hospital of presentation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Assessment using the Mayo Clinic elbow function chart enabled comparison of the outcome in 18 cases treated by the O-K procedure and 26 patients treated by arthroscopic debridement and fenestration of the olecranon fossa. Mean follow-up was 35.3 months (minimum 12 months). Of the patients treated by the O-K procedure, 14 were men and 4 were women with a mean age of 55 years. In 83% of patients, the diagnosis was primary osteoarthritis, with the remainder post-traumatic arthritis. The patients treated by arthroscopic debridement and fenestration of the olecranon fossa included 24 men and 2 women with a mean age of 46 years, and a diagnosis of primary osteoarthritis in 91% and post-traumatic arthritis in the remainder. No patients were excluded from the study or refused to be included. RESULTS: Both procedures were shown to be effective, with no major complications. Patients treated by arthroscopic debridement and fenestration of the olecranon fossa achieved better relief of pain (P <.10), whereas those patients undergoing the O-K procedure achieved significantly greater improvement in range of flexion (P <.05). No difference between the procedures in terms of patient-perceived overall effectiveness of the surgery was found. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the elbow, arthroscopic debridement and fenestration of the olecranon fossa may be a more suitable procedure when painful symptoms predominate. In contrast, the O-K procedure is a significantly better procedure for improving the range of flexion where this is a particular problem.

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