Why does radial head arthroplasty fail today? A systematic review of recent literature

Jetske Viveen*, Izaak F. Kodde, Andras Heijink, Koen L.M. Koenraadt, Michel P.J. van den Bekerom, Denise Eygendaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Since the introduction of the radial head prosthesis (RHP) in 1941, many designs have been introduced. It is not clear whether prosthesis design parameters are related to early failure. The aim of this systematic review is to report on failure modes and to explore the association between implant design and early failure. A search was conducted to identify studies reporting on failed primary RHP. The results are clustered per type of RHP based on: material, fixation technique, modularity, and polarity. Chi-square tests are used to compare reasons for failure between the groups. Thirty-four articles are included involving 152 failed radial head arthroplasties (RHAs) in 152 patients. Eighteen different types of RHPs have been used. The most frequent reasons for revision surgery after RHA are (aseptic) loosening (30%), elbow stiffness (20%) and/or persisting pain (17%). Failure occurs after an average of 34 months (range, 0-348 months; median, 14 months). Press-fit prostheses fail at a higher ratio because of symptomatic loosening than intentionally loose-fit prostheses and prostheses that are fixed with an expandable stem (p < 0.01). Because of the many different types of RHP used to date and the limited numbers and evidence on early failure of RHA, the current data provide no evidence for a specific RHP design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-667
Number of pages9
JournalEFORT Open Reviews
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Elbow
  • Failure
  • Radial head prosthesis
  • Removal
  • Replacement
  • Revision


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