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Terrible triad of the elbow

The terrible triad of the elbow is a severe elbow fracture-dislocation pattern and is so-called because it has poor medium-to-long term outcome. 

Epidemiology

The terrible triad primarily occurs in adults; the flexibility of ligaments in children make this constellation unlikely 4.

Pathology

Mechanism

Most commonly due to a fall onto an outstretched hand, not necessarily high-energy, with the arm in semi-flexion and supination 3.

Radiographic features

The terrible triad of the elbow is the association of 1,2:

  1. posterior elbow dislocation
  2. coronoid process fracture
  3. radial head fracture
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Article information

rID: 10500
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

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  • Case 4
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