Surgical versus non-surgical treatment of ligamentous injuries following dislocation of the elbow joint. A prospective randomized study.

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Thirty consecutive patients who had dislocation of the elbow without concomitant fracture and who were sixteen years old or more were examined under general anesthesia for stability of the joint at an average of four days after the injury. All of the elbows showed medial and sixteen showed both medial and lateral instability. The patients were then randomly assigned to undergo either non-surgical or surgical treatment of the ligamentous injuries. All of the surgically treated elbows showed complete rupture or avulsion of both the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, and in about half of these patients the muscle origins were found to be torn from the humeral epicondyles. At follow-up, both groups showed generally good results; the differences were not statistically significant. There was no evidence that the results of surgical repair of the ligaments were any better than those of non-surgical treatment.

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