This is a retrospective review of 27 patients who underwent arthroscopic capsular release for posttraumatic arthrofibrosis. The authors found that flexion improved significantly to 133° and extension improved to 7° for a total average range of motion of 125°. These outcomes did not fall off over the 3, 12 and 24 month follow-up period.
The clinical significance is that arthroscopic release of post traumatic elbow contractures is an effective means of improving elbow arc of motion. Previous authors found that arthroscopic capsular release was very beneficial in improvement of elbow extension, but may not have led to the same degree of success in improving elbow extension contractures. These authors demonstrate the significant improvement in elbow flexion as well as elbow extension. In addition they showed the results at 3 months seemed to have correlated nicely with the results at 24 months. The procedure, however, is not to be taken lightly. It requires a high degree of surgical skill with arthroscopic methods and instruments and carries a potentially high complication rate. There is clearly a learning curve in the arthroscopic release of the stiff elbow.