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Fixation of the Coronoid Process in Elbow Fracture-Dislocations
Grant E. Garrigues, MD1; Walter H. Wray, III, MD1; Anneluuk L.C. Lindenhovius, MSc2; David C. Ring, MD, PhD2; David S. Ruch, MD1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3466, Durham, NC 27710. E-mail address for D.S. Ruch: d.ruch@duke.edu
2 Orthopaedic Hand and Upper Extremity Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Yawkey Center Suite 2100, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114
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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.

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Investigation performed at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Oct 19;93(20):1873-1881. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.I.01673
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Terrible triad injuries consist of a posterior dislocation of the elbow, a coronoid fracture, and a radial head fracture. The coronoid plays a pivotal role as an anterior buttress, yet the optimal management of the coronoid fracture remains unknown. We hypothesize that suture lasso fixation of the coronoid fracture leads to fewer complications and improved outcomes compared with screw or suture anchor fixation techniques.


A retrospective chart review performed at three tertiary care centers identified forty consecutive patients treated for terrible triad injuries of the elbow with a minimum follow-up of eighteen months (mean, twenty-four months; range, eighteen to fifty-three months). All patients were managed with a standard approach consisting of: (1) repair or replacement of the radial head; (2) repair of the lateral ulnar collateral ligament (LUCL) of the elbow; and (3) repair of the coronoid fracture with one of two techniques: Group I (n = 28) consisted of the “lasso” technique and Group II (n = 12) consisted of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with screws or suture anchors.


For the study population, the mean postoperative arc of elbow motion was 115° (range, 75° to 140°), the average Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score was 16 (range, 0 to 43), and the average Broberg-Morrey score was 90 (range, 64 to 100). For repair of the coronoid fracture, the suture lasso technique was more stable than the other techniques intraoperatively, both before (p < 0.05) and after (p < 0.05) LUCL repair, and at the final follow-up (p < 0.05). ORIF was associated with a higher prevalence of implant failure (p < 0.05), and suture anchors were associated with a higher prevalence of malunion and nonunion (p < 0.05).


For terrible triad injuries, greater stability with fewer complications was achieved with use of the suture lasso technique for coronoid fracture fixation.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    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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