[Isolated traumatic anterior dislocation of the radial head]

Published online: Dec 27 1998

B Damak, H Triki, N Karray, M Rebaï, and H Keskes.

Service de Chirurgie Orthopédique et traumatologique, Hôpital Habib Bourguiba, Sfax, Tunisie.


The authors report 2 cases of isolated traumatic anterior dislocation of the radial head in children. In the first case, with an acute dislocation, closed reduction followed by plaster cast immobilisation for one month gave a good result. In the second case, the dislocation was also traumatic in origin but had remained unreduced for 5 years. Arthrography of the elbow showed the head to be intracapsular. The authors believe that a neocapsule forms in cases of old unreduced dislocation and arthrography is therefore of little help to differentiate a long standing traumatic dislocation from a congenital dislocation. Based on their experience and on the literature, the authors propose closed reduction followed by immobilisation as a treatment for acute dislocation; old unreduced dislocations cannot be reduced by manipulation and with the exception of very symptomatic cases, the authors prefer to avoid open reduction, which carries a risk of joint stiffness.