Radial head fractures: MRI evaluation of associated injuries

Authors: Itamura J, Roidis N, Mirzayan R, Vaishnav S, Learch T, Shean C

References: Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery- 2005 7 (Vol. 14, Issue 4):421-4

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of combined osteochondral and ligamentous injuries by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 24 patients with an acute radial head fracture (Mason type II and III) without documented dislocation or tenderness at the distal radioulnar joint. Elbow radiographs (anteroposterior and lateral views) were obtained on all patients as well as magnetic resonance images in the sagittal, coronal, axial, axial oblique, and coronal oblique planes with the injured elbow in a splint. The incidence of associated injuries revealed by MRI was medial collateral ligament not intact in 13 of 24 (54.16%), lateral ulnar collateral ligament not intact in 18 of 24 (80.1%), both collateral ligaments not intact in 12 of 24 (50%), capitellar osteochondral defects in 7 of 24 (29.1%), capitellar bone bruises in 23 of 24 (95.83%), and loose bodies in 22 of 24 (91.67%). A high level of suspicion should be used when one is treating displaced or comminuted radial head fractures, because concurrent osteochondral injuries and/or ligamentous injuries may be present.

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