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Newly defined fracture pattern specific to Mason III radial head fractures: fracture description, management and outcomes using screw fixation


  • D. G. Duckworth MBBS, FRACS (Ortho), FAO; C. Chien MBBS; Z. Avakian MBBS (Hons), BMedSc.

  • The findings in this study were presented at the 2010 Australian Orthopaedic Association Annual Scientific Meeting.

Dr David Duckworth, Suite 601B, The SAN clinic, Sydney Adventist Hospital, 185 Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga, NSW 2076, Australia. Email:


Background:  Radial head fractures are the most common type of elbow fracture and are universally classified under the Mason classification system. Mason type III fractures are comminuted and are the most difficult to treat, generally requiring plating if possible, or more commonly arthroplasty or excision, which gives a variable outcome. We hypothesized that a new and specific fracture pattern of the radial head (Mason III) can be treated successfully with screw fixation.

Methods:  Six patients presented to the senior surgeon's clinic with this unusual Mason III fracture pattern. In these patients, the fracture was acute, requiring an open reduction and internal fixation with the use of three headless compression screws. Average follow-up time was 21 months. Using serial X-rays and the Broberg–Morrey elbow score, the six acute fractures were evaluated radiologically and functionally.

Results:  All six patients had good to excellent results using the Broberg–Morrey scoring system. All patients showed radiological and clinical union within 3 months of injury. No patient required revision surgery or excision at a later date.

Discussion:  We have recognized a specific type of comminuted and displaced Mason III radial head fracture that has not previously been described in the literature. This type of fracture is amenable to open reduction internal fixation with buried compression screws giving a good to excellent outcome, while avoiding the common consequences seen with a radial head excision, arthroplasty or plate fixation.