Validation of a Simple Overlay Device to Assess Radial Head Implant Length

Dave R. Shukla, Matthias K.D. Vanhees, James S. Fitzsimmons, Kai Nan An, Shawn W. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: A simple overlay device (SOD) was developed to measure radial head implant length. The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy and reliability of this device for measuring experimental radial head implant length. Methods: Five fresh frozen cadavers were implanted with sequentially longer implants, adjusted by neck length (0, 2, 4, and 8 mm). Fluoroscopic images were obtained in 4 forearm positions: anteroposterior in supination in full extension, anteroposterior in pronation in full extension, supinated in 45° of flexion, and neutral in 45° of flexion. The SOD measurements (made by 2 observers) were compared with the native original radial head (control) to assess implant length. In addition, gapping of the ulnohumeral joint space was measured for comparison purposes. Results: The measured radial head and neck lengths for the specimens were 33, 39, 31, 34, and 42 mm. The difference between the actual radial head and neck lengths and those measured with the SOD template averaged less than 2 mm for all 4 collar sizes, except in 1 measurement in which the bicipital tuberosity could not be visualized. The median intraclass correlation coefficients for observer 1 compared with the SOD were 0.94 to 0.99. The median intraclass correlation coefficients between observers were 0.88 to 0.95. For both observers, elbow position, collar height, and the 2 variables combined did not significantly affect the SOD values. The other method that was evaluated, that of measurement of the ulnohumeral joint space, had higher interobserver variability versus the SOD, and allowed detection of lengthening of over 4 mm. Conclusions: The SOD is a reliable method for simply assessing radial head length with radiographs and can accurately detect 2 mm or more of proximal radial lengthening. Clinical relevance: The SOD is a simple and accurate method that can help to optimize radial head sizing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Implant overlay
  • radial head arthroplasty
  • radial head lengthening
  • template

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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