Elbow joint effusion: sail sign

Case contributed by A.Prof Frank Gaillard



Modality: X-ray

On lateral elbow radiograph, the anterior fat pad (which is intra-articular, but extra-synovial) becomes elevated due to joint effusion.

Modality: CT

There is also on sagittal CT, the fat pads of the elbow become elevated due to joint effusion.

Modality: Photo

Blue Sail

Case Discussion

There is elevated anterior fat pad of the elbow due to joint effusion which is called sail sign.

In adults, this is usually a radial head fracture whereas in children, the commonest cause of a raised elbow fat pad is a supracondylar fracture.  Where a fat pad is raised and no fracture is demonstrated, an occult fracture should be suspected.

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Case Information

rID: 2657
Case created: 7th May 2008
Last edited: 3rd Oct 2015
Tags: trauma, elbow
Inclusion in quiz mode: Excluded

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