Complex and Unstable Simple Elbow Dislocations: A Review and Quantitative Analysis of Individual Patient Data

Jeroen de Haan1, Niels Schep2, Wim Tuinebreijer2, Dennis den Hartog*, 2
1 Department of Surgery and Traumatology, Westfriesgasthuis, Maelsonstraat 3, 1624 NP Hoorn, The Netherlands
2 Department of Surgery-Traumatology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, ‘s Gravendijkwal 230, 3015 CE Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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Creative Commons License
© de Haan et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Surgery- Traumatology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, ‘s Gravendijkwal 230, office H-960, 3015 CE Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Tel: +31 10 7032395; Fax: +31 10 7032396; E-mail:



The primary objective of this review of the literature with quantitative analysis of individual patient data was to identify the results of available treatments for complex elbow dislocations and unstable simple elbow dislocations. The secondary objective was to compare the results of patients with complex elbow dislocations and unstable elbow joints after repositioning of simple elbow dislocations, which were treated with an external fixator versus without an external fixator.

Search Strategy:

Electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.

Selection Criteria:

Studies were eligible for inclusion if they included individual patient data of patients with complex elbow dislocations and unstable simple elbow dislocations.

Data Analysis:

The different outcome measures (MEPI, Broberg and Morrey, ASES, DASH, ROM, arthritis grading) are presented with mean and confidence intervals.

Main Results:

The outcome measures show an acceptable range of motion with good functional scores of the different questionnaires and a low mean arthritis score. Thus, treatment of complex elbow dislocations with ORIF led to a moderate to good result. Treatment of unstable simple elbow dislocations with repair of the collateral ligaments with or without the combination of an external fixator is also a good option.

The physician-rated (MEPI, Broberg and Morrey), patient-rated (DASH) and physician- and patient-rated (ASES) questionnaires showed good intercorrelations.

Arthritis classification by x-ray is only fairly correlated with range of motion.

Elbow dislocations are mainly on the non-dominant side.

Keywords: Elbow joint, dislocation, fractures, joint instability, therapy.