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Orthopade. 2001 Sep;30(9):593-601.

[Radiological diagnosis in contracted elbow joint. Value of CT and MRI].

[Article in German]

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Abteilung Radiodiagnostik, Universitätsklinikum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 110, 69120 Heidelberg.


A contracture of the elbow joint is a challenge for diagnostic radiology. Radiographs remain the method of choice for primary diagnosis, however, diagnostic confidence can be limited if periarticular ossifications or contracture do not permit evaluation of the whole joint. In these cases, CT or MRI can be used for specific diagnostic problems. Additional multiplanar or three-dimensional reformations can be used by the orthopedic surgeon for planning the surgical procedure. MRI has a great advantage in allowing visualization of muscles, capsula-ligamentous complex and articular cartilage. The main disadvantages are duration of examination time and artifacts. CT is superior in terms of spatial resolution and visualization of bony structures. MRI and CT examinations of the elbow will increase with the number of minimal invasive surgical procedures. Protocols must therefore be optimized with attention to positioning, sequence selection and image processing. This article reviews the current standards of high resolution imaging with CT and MRI, including arthrographic techniques. The pros and cons of both methods are discussed in the setting of a contracture of the elbow joint.

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