The lateral (Kocher) approach can be used to access the radial head and the tip of the coronoid.
In pediatrics the most common use of this approach is open reduction of radial head/neck fractures.
Either a posterior skin incision with a lateral skin flap or a lateral skin incision can be used.
For a lateral skin incision, place the elbow at 90° and palpate the lateral condyle, which is easier in thin patients.
Make a gently curved skin incision directly over the middle of the lateral condyle, initially 6-8 cm, extending proximally or distally if needed.
Note: The posterior interosseous nerve is located within the supinator muscle and must be protected during this approach. This crosses the posterior radius, from anteriorly, three patient finger breadths distal to the radial head.
Incise the subcutaneous tissue in line with the incision and raise flaps to expose the fascia over the muscles.
It can be difficult to identify precise intervals proximally because of confluence of fibers in the common extensor origin.
It is easier to identify the intervals distally but keep in mind that distal dissection needs to be limited to protect the posterior interosseous nerve.
Pronation of the forearm will move the nerve further from the plane of dissection.
The Kocher interval is between the extensor carpi ulnaris and the anconeus.
Divide the annular ligament, if intact, in line with the muscle interval.
Release the origin of brachioradialis and associated capsule from the lateral supracondylar ridge to improve visualization of the capitellum and radial head.
Close the capsule with resorbable sutures (3/0).
Reattach the muscles and fascia with resorbable sutures (2/0 or 3/0).
Close skin and subcutaneous tissue with fine resorbable sutures (this avoids distress to the child when removing nonabsorbable sutures).