Document Type


Publication Date


Academic Year



Introduction: No studies have assessed the relationship between extremity dominance and distal humerus fractures. This study sought to compare post-operative outcomes between patients with distal humerus fractures treated by open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of their non-dominant vs dominant arm.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients who sustained a distal humerus fracture treated with ORIF at one hospital between 2011-2015 was performed. Data collection included demographics, hand dominance, injury information, and surgical management. Post-operative outcomes included complications, time to fracture union, painful hardware, removal of hardware, Mayo Elbow Performance Index (MEPI), and range of motion.

Results: Of the 69 patients, 40 (58.0%) underwent ORIF of a distal humerus fracture on their non-dominant arm and 29 (42.0%) on their dominant arm. Groups did not differ with respect to demographics, injury information, or surgical management. Mean overall follow up was 14.1 ± 10.5 months with no difference in follow up or time to fracture union between groups. The non-dominant cohort experienced a higher proportion of post-operative complications (P = 0.048), painful hardware (P = 0.018), and removal of hardware (P = 0.002). At latest follow up, the non-dominant cohort had lower MEPI scores (86.4 vs 94.7, P = 0.037) but no difference in arc of motion (104.3° vs 112.5°, P = 0.314).

Discussion: Patients who sustain a distal humerus fracture of their non-dominant arm treated surgically experience more post-operative complications and have worse functional recovery. Physicians should emphasize the importance of therapy and maintaining arm movement, especially with the non-dominant arm.