Terrible triad injuries of the elbow

  • Kimia Khalatbari KaniEmail author
  • Felix S Chew
Pictorial Essay


Terrible triad injury of the elbow is a complex injury that is classically defined as elbow dislocation along with fractures of the coronoid process of the ulna and the radial head. The injury is usually associated with typical soft-tissue disruptions (with common involvement of the lateral collateral ligament complex, elbow joint capsule, as well as the common extensor and flexor–pronator tendons) that are best understood in the context of injury mechanism as well as the role and relevance of the various elbow stabilizers. The goals of this article are to review the pertinent anatomy, mechanism of injury, classification and imaging of terrible triad injuries of the elbow with brief descriptions of treatment, and complications of this complex injury.


Terrible triad injury of the elbow Elbow fracture-dislocation Coronoid fracture Radial head fracture Complex elbow dislocation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Society of Emergency Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear MedicineUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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