Elbow fractures are common injuries that can occur in various ways. One common type is known as intercondylar fractures, which resemble the letters T or Y. These fractures happen when the bone in the upper arm (humerus) breaks around the area where the elbow bends.
Elbow injuries and fractures are common and are often accompanied by damage to the shoulder or wrist joints. Surgery is often recommended as the best course of action following an elbow fracture, especially if there is evidence of nerve or vascular involvement. For more complex fractures, a procedure called open reduction and internal fixation may be necessary.
Signs and Symptoms of Elbow Intercondylar Fractures may include:
Elbow intercondylar fractures are confirmed through X-rays to assess the severity of the injury and any related damage.
Surgery is often recommended as the best course of action following an elbow fracture, especially if there is evidence of nerve or vascular involvement. For more complex fractures, a procedure called open reduction and internal fixation may be needed.
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation
During the procedure, an incision is made at the back of the elbow. The bone fragments are first repositioned into their normal alignment and then held in place with a plate attached to the outer bone using pins and screws. In some cases, a screw or rod is inserted into the bone to keep the bone fragments aligned during healing.
In cases where bone fragments are missing or severely damaged, a bone filler may be required. This can be sourced from the patient (typically taken from the pelvis), a bone bank, or by using an artificial calcium-containing material.
Following the closure of the incision, a splint may be placed on the arm, depending on the severity of the injury.
Most patients regain full elbow range of motion post-surgery and can return to normal activities within four to six months. However, complete healing and a return to sports may take longer.
Elbow Fractures in Children
Diagnosing elbow fractures in children can be challenging due to the delayed ossification (bone formation) of the radial head (the head of the forearm bone), which typically doesn’t occur until around the age of four. These fractures may also be associated with ulna shaft fractures, sometimes requiring an ultrasound or MRI for confirmation of the diagnosis.