Ultrasound-Assisted Assessment of Medial Elbow Stability

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Abstract

Objectives

An assessment of medial elbow stability is essential to the patient with an ulnar collateral ligament injury. Ultrasound imaging can be used to assess medial elbow stability. This study determined the effect of the elbow flexion angle on the medial elbow joint space during clinical tests of medial elbow stability.

Methods

Ultrasound images of the nondominant elbow were collected during 3 tests of medial elbow stability: valgus stress test, weighted valgus test, and milking maneuver. The elbow flexion angle increased between the valgus stress test and milking maneuver. The width of the medial joint space was measured on ultrasound images collected in unstressed and stressed conditions.

Results

Across test conditions, the medial joint width was greater in the stressed condition (mean ± SD, 3.7 ± 0.1 mm) than in the unstressed condition (2.9 ± 0.09 mm). The medial elbow joint space width was less (mean difference, 0.16 ± 0.01 mm; P = .01) in the milking maneuver position compared to the valgus stress test positions.

Conclusions

This study provides evidence that changes in the width of the medial elbow during clinical evaluation of the unimpaired elbow can be detected by ultrasound. Changing the elbow flexion angle did not affect the change in width of the medial elbow during valgus loading.

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