To investigate several complications like persistent radial head dislocation, forearm deformity, elbow stiffness and nerve palsies, associated with radial head fractures.

This study reviewed the clinical records and trauma database of this level I Trauma Center and identified all patients with fractures of the radial head and neck who where admitted between 2000 and 2010. An analysis of clinical records revealed 1047 patients suffering from fractures of the radial head or neck classified according to Mason. For clinical examination, range of motion, local pain and overall outcome were assessed.

The incidence of one-sided fractures was 99.2% and for simultaneous bilateral fractures 0.8%. Non-operative treatment was performed in 90.4% (n = 947) of the cases, surgery in 9.6% (n = 100). Bony union was achieved in 99.8% (n = 1045) patients. Full satisfaction was achieved in 59% (n = 615) of the patients. A gender related significant difference (P = 0.035) in Mason type distribution-type III fractures were more prominent in male patients vs type IV fractures in female patients-was observed in our study population.

Mason type I fractures can be treated safe conservatively with good results. In type II to IV surgical intervention is usually considered to be indicated.

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