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MRI of the Elbow: Techniques and Spectrum of DiseaseAAOS Exhibit Selection
Ashvin K. Dewan, MD1; A. Bobby Chhabra, MD2; A. Jay Khanna, MD, MBA1; Mark W. Anderson, MD2; Lance M. Brunton, MD3
1 c/o Elaine P. Henze, BJ, ELS, Medical Editor and Director, Editorial Services, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University/Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue #A665, Baltimore, MD 21224. E-mail address: ehenze1@jhmi.edu
2 Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery (A.B.C.) and Radiology (M.W.A.), University of Virginia, 1827 University Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22904
3 Excela Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, 8775 Norwin Avenue, North Huntingdon, PA 15642
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Radiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Jul 17;95(14):e99 1-13. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.01621
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the elbow allows for high-resolution evaluation of osseous and soft-tissue structures, including ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles. Multiple imaging techniques and pulse sequences exist. The purpose of this article is to update orthopaedic surgeons on current MRI techniques and illustrate the spectrum of elbow pathology detectable by MRI.


We searched MEDLINE with use of the keywords “MRI” and “elbow” for studies less than five years old evaluating MRI techniques. These papers, our experience, and textbooks reviewing elbow MRI provided the information for this article.


We discuss the essentials and applications of the following techniques: (1) conventional, non-gadolinium-enhanced MRI; (2) gadolinium-enhanced MRI; and (3) magnetic resonance arthrography. The classic MRI appearances of occult fractures, loose bodies, ulnar collateral ligament injuries, lateral collateral ligament complex injuries, biceps tendon injuries, triceps tendon injuries, lateral epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, osteochondritis dissecans, compression neuropathies, synovial disorders, and various soft-tissue masses are reviewed.


MRI is a valuable, noninvasive method of elbow evaluation. This article updates orthopaedic surgeons on the various available MRI techniques and facilitates recognition of the MRI appearances of the most commonly seen pathologic elbow conditions.

Figures in this Article


    elbow region
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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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