Unique indications for internal joint stabilizer for elbow instability

Luis M. Salazar, Riikka E. Koso, Anil K. Dutta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment of elbow instability remains challenging despite advancements in surgical techniques. The objective of this study was to evaluate obesity, advanced age or frailty, and altered cognitive function (because of mental handicap, stroke, dementia, or traumatic brain injury) as unique indications for the use of the internal joint stabilizer (IJS) to augment surgical treatment of elbow instability. Methods: This was a retrospective review of all patients 18 years and older with elbow instability who were managed with an IJS along with standard measures of care for their specific injury, such as fracture fixation and collateral ligament reconstruction. Patients were excluded if they did not have a minimum follow-up of 3 months. All patients were treated by a single shoulder and elbow fellowship–trained orthopedic traumatologist at an urban university-based level 1 trauma center. Results: Twenty-two patients were included in the study. Five patients were 60 years of age or older. Nine patients had a body mass index of 30 or greater. Five patients had a history of 1 or more cerebral insults or cognitive impairment. The majority of patients (21/22; 95%) regained elbow stability after the index surgery. At last follow-up, 14 of 22 patients (63%) regained a functional arc of motion, defined as at least 100° arc of motion, and 77% of patients had at least 90° of motion. Complications requiring revision surgery included culture-negative recurrent elbow instability (n = 1), deep infection (n = 1), and IJS failure without recurrent instability (n = 1). The IJS was removed in all 3 cases. Twelve patients underwent delayed IJS removal >2 months after the index surgery to grant additional time for bony and ligamentous healing and to permit secondary contracture release at the time of IJS removal. No complications were seen from delayed IJS removal. Conclusion: The IJS may be used to create elbow stability in complex patients, regardless of weight, frailty, cognitive function, neurologic insult, or other comorbidities. Unlike external fixation, the IJS does not require pin site care and is relatively light and low-profile. When augmenting surgical fixation for elbow instability, the IJS may be preferable for patients with complex comorbidities or social dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2308-2315
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of shoulder and elbow surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Case Series
  • Elbow stabilization
  • IJS
  • Level IV
  • Treatment Study
  • elbow instability
  • elderly
  • internal joint stabilizer
  • lateral ulnar collateral ligament
  • obese
  • terrible triad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Unique indications for internal joint stabilizer for elbow instability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this