The dynamic elbow suspension splint

Bain GI, Mehta JA, Heptinstall RJ

Modbury Public Hospital, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia.

Elevation of the upper extremity after elbow surgery has rarely been advocated and can be difficult to achieve. Usually the extremity is elevated with the elbow at 90 degrees of flexion, so that swelling from the hand drains to the elbow but the elbow remains dependent.

Excessive swelling causes discomfort and compromised wound healing, makes early mobilization difficult, and predisposes to joint contracture.

We report on a dynamic elbow suspension splint, which is analogous to the Thomas splint used for femoral shaft fractures.

The arm is held in full extension with an above-elbow plaster slab and is secured to the Thomas splint with skin traction. The splint is suspended on a Balkan frame at an angle of 60 degrees.

We prefer to use the new Zimmer Thomas splint, because it is radiolucent and has self-adhesive sheep-skin supports that can be simply applied. It allows the patient to mobilize in bed and is well tolerated by patients and nursing staff.

The dynamic elbow suspension splint is a useful adjunct after complex elbow surgery or trauma, because it reduces swelling and maintains the elbow in extension.

J Shoulder Elbow Surg 1998 Jul-Aug;7(4):419-21

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