Functional outcomes following surgical treatment of chronically unreduced simple elbow dislocations: a retrospective review


  • Thabiso Yende University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • M E Senoge University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • N Ferreira Stellenbosch University


chronic elbow dislocation, functional outcomes, MEPI


Background: Chronic elbow dislocations are rare injuries that present late for orthopaedic management. The delay in presentation is frequently due to patients not seeking treatment after the initial injury, poor access to health care, inadequate initial treatment of acute dislocation or initial missed diagnosis. Chronic simple elbow dislocations refer to dislocations that remain unreduced for more than two weeks and are not associated with fractures. This study aims to evaluate the outcome of surgically treated chronic elbow dislocations.

Methods: A retrospective review of all patients who were treated for chronic simple elbow dislocations between September 2009 and August 2014 was undertaken. Further information regarding return to function was obtained from the records or telephonic consultation with the patients. Nine patients were included for final analysis.

Results: Nine patients were eligible for the study. Three patients were employed, three were scholars and three were unemployed. All patients were able to return to premorbid function with minor limitations due to occasional pain. According to the Mayo Elbow Performance Index (MEPI) score, two patients had excellent outcomes, three good and three fair. One could not be scored as there was no recorded scoring on the file and telephonic contact was unsuccessful. The range of motion varied from 20° of extension to 140° of flexion. One patient developed a stiff elbow but was able to adapt to activities of daily living.

Conclusion: Surgical treatment of chronically unreduced simple elbow dislocations offers satisfactory outcome with minimal complications and should be considered for all patients presenting with this condition.

Level of evidence: Level 4

Author Biographies

Thabiso Yende, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Biomed Technology, MBChB, HDipOrth(SA), FCOrth(SA); Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Grey’s Hospital, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg

M E Senoge, University of KwaZulu-Natal

MBChB, FCOrth(SA); Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Grey’s Hospital, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg

N Ferreira, Stellenbosch University

BSc, MBChB, FCOrth(SA), MMed(Orth)(SA), PhD; Professor and Head Clinical Unit: Tumour, Sepsis and Reconstruction; Division of Orthopaedics, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town






Shoulder and Elbow

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