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The terrible triad of the elbow (TTE) is a difficult injury, and the usual TTE consists of posterior dislocation of the elbow, radial head fracture, and coronoid fracture. The target of this retrospective study is to explore the effect, postoperative complications, and prognostic factors in patients with TTE undergoing arthroscopic surgery with three different operative approaches.Patients with TTE underwent arthroscopic surgery were treated using lateral, anterior medial, or combined lateral and anterior medial approaches, respectively. In order to analyze the postoperative complications and the effect of arthroscopic surgery for patients with TTE, the function of elbow joint before and after the surgery was evaluated and the flexion-extension of elbow joint and rotation of elbow joint and forearm were measured.The evaluation results obtained from patients underwent 3 different operative approaches revealed that after surgery, patients receiving arthroscopic surgery using combined lateral and anterior medial approach had superior flexion-extension of elbow joint, rotation of elbow joint and forearm, higher Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS) and more cases of Broberg–Morrey grade 0, and lower complication rate, compared with those using lateral or anterior medial approach. A key finding in the study demonstrated that fracture type, operative approach, and postoperative complications were factors related with the effect of arthroscopic surgery for patients with TTE.Collectively, the key findings obtained from the present study supported the notion that the effect of arthroscopic surgery in combined lateral and anterior medial approach is much better than in lateral approach or anterior medial approach, and is related with fracture type, operative approach, and postoperative complications.