Acute elbow dislocation: evaluation and management

M S Cohen, H Hastings
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 1998, 6 (1): 15-23
Most elbow dislocations are stable after closed reduction. Treatment with an early range-of-motion program generally leads to favorable results. Care must be taken to rule out neurovascular involvement and associated osseous or ligamentous injury in the wrist. Late elbow instability and stiffness are rare after simple dislocations. Complex elbow dislocations with associated fractures may require surgical intervention to obtain joint stability; ligament and/or fracture repair is frequently necessary in this situation. Larger periarticular fractures adversely affect functional results. Potential late complications of elbow dislocation include posttraumatic stiffness, posterolateral joint instability, ectopic ossification, and occult distal radioulnar joint disruption.

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