Successful management of complex elbow fracture-dislocations requires, in part, recognition of the overall injury pattern, which can aid in the identification of concomitant bony and soft tissue injuries. Trans-olecranon fracture-dislocations are best treated surgically with stable anatomic restoration of the trochlear notch. Terrible triad elbow injuries are believed to be caused by a valgus posterolateral force. Although select terrible triad injuries can be managed non-operatively, the majority of injuries are treated with stable surgical repair to allow early elbow motion. Unlike terrible triads, varus posteromedial forces are theorized to cause anteromedial coronoid fractures. These are usually associated with LCL disruptions, but do not have concomitant MCL or radial head injuries. A subset of anteromedial coronoid fractures can also be managed non-operatively. Internal fixation is recommended for injuries associated with large fracture fragments or elbow instability preventing early motion.
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Conflict of interest
Kevin Chan and Kenneth J. Faber declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Graham J.W. King reports personal fees from Wright Medical Technology and Tornier Incorporated, out the submitted work. In addition, Dr. King has a patent Wright Medical Technology with royalties paid, and a patent Tornier Incorporated with royalties paid.
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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Elbow Soft Tissue Surgery
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Chan, K., King, G.J.W. & Faber, K.J. Treatment of complex elbow fracture-dislocations. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 9, 185–189 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-016-9337-8
- Terrible triad
- Anteromedial coronoid
- Elbow instability