Elbow Dislocations in the Emergency Department: A Review of Reduction Techniques

Michael Gottlieb, Jessen Schiebout
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2018, 54 (6): 849-854

BACKGROUND: Elbow dislocations are one of the most common large joint dislocations and they require urgent reduction in the emergency department. Posterior dislocations are the most common type, with anterior dislocations occurring in rare cases.

DISCUSSION: Reduction techniques include traction-countertraction, patient-assisted countertraction, the leverage approach, and the modified Stimson technique. Complications can include nerve injury, vascular injury, and compartment syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: It is important for emergency physicians to be familiar with several different reduction techniques for elbow dislocations in case the initial reduction attempt is unsuccessful. This article reviews the current evidence for reduction of elbow dislocations and any variations on these approaches.

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