A 58 year old female attended our A&E department following a fall in the garden with swelling and bruising of the right arm and the elbow. Anteroposterior and lateral radiographs were interpreted as showing a normal elbow joint. A diagnosis of soft tissue injury to the elbow was made and the patient was discharged with advice. She returned 2 days later, did not have an x ray, and again given advice. Three weeks later she was referred back to A&E by the general practitioner with persistent swelling of the elbow. Further radiographs showed a posterolateral dislocation of the elbow. The elbow was reduced under sedation but was subsequently dislocated at follow up, and was treated by external fixator and transolecranon pin. The fixator was removed at 4 weeks and the elbow was then stable. This case highlights that recurrent elbow dislocations due to significant ligament injuries can present in joint and subsequently dislocate. A high index of suspicion is necessary and appropriate referral to the specialist must be made to avoid the morbidity associated with recurrent dislocation. It also emphasises the need to always assess the patient on his or her own merits despite previously normal investigations.
- A&E, accident and emergency
- EUA, examination under anaesthesia
- ligamentous injury
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Competing interests: none declared
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