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Skeletal Radiol. 2014 Apr;43(4):507-12. doi: 10.1007/s00256-014-1819-4. Epub 2014 Jan 24.

MDCT findings after elbow dislocation: a retrospective study of 140 patients.

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Medical Imaging Center, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland,



To assess the number and anatomical location of fractures associated with elbow dislocation, to study the correlation between the direction of dislocation and the trauma energy, and to assess radiographs' diagnostic performance characteristics for fractures using MDCT as a reference standard.


A retrospective study was performed at a level 1 trauma center, finding a total of 140 patients who had sustained an elbow dislocation and who had undergone a subsequent MDCT examination. The CT and radiographs of the patient were reviewed by two musculoskeletal radiologists. CT images were analyzed for the site and size of the fracture fragments. In addition, the primary direction of the dislocation, patients' age, and gender were recorded. Trauma energy was also assessed.


One hundred and thirty-four out of 140 patients (96%) had a fracture that was seen on the correlative CT examination. The most common anatomical fracture locations were the coronoid process of the ulna 84 out of 140 (60%), the radial head 75 out of 140 (54%), and the humeral capitellum 57 out of 140 (41%). Multiple fractures were seen in 71 out of 134 (53%) patients with fractures. The left elbow was more commonly dislocated than the right one. The overall sensitivity of the radiographs was 62% and the specificity 96%.


Small fractures and impaction fractures are almost invariably present in elbow dislocations, and half of the patients have more than one fracture. Radiographs have a sensitivity of only 62%. MDCT is an invaluable method for determining the extent of bony injury and revealing occult fractures.

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