Go to content

The epidemiology of closed reduction for simple elbow dislocations and the incidence of early subsequent open reduction


Background — Simple elbow dislocations are often treated with closed reduction (CR); however, the rate of CR failure and factors that may predict failure have been largely underinvestigated. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the incidence of elbow dislocations treated by CR in a universal healthcare system and (2) to identify patient characteristics associated with failed CR, defined as the subsequent need for open reduction.

Methods — Patients ≥16 years old who underwent elbow CR by a physician between 1994 and 2010 were identified from administrative databases. Concurrent elbow fractures were excluded. The incidence density rate (IDR) of CR per 100,000 eligible person-years among the general population was calculated. Failed CR was defined as subsequent open reduction with or without ligament repair or reconstruction within 90 days. Patient and provider characteristics were modeled in a multivariate logistic regression for failure.

Results — The cohort consisted of 4878 patients (median age, 41 years) who underwent CR (IDR, 2.65 per 100,000 person-years), and 75 (1.5%) underwent subsequent open reduction with or without ligament repair or reconstruction (median time, 15 days). Young men (≤20 years) had the highest IDR (7.45 per 100,000 person-years), twice that of young women (P = .005). Patient characteristics associated with failed CR included older age (P = .001), admission to the hospital (P < .0001), >1 attempted CR (P = .001), and new orthopedic consultation in the 4 weeks after the CR (P = .02).

Conclusion — Young men are at highest risk for CR for simple elbow dislocations; however, older patients are more likely to require open intervention, as are those with markers of a difficult reduction signifying potentially greater soft tissue damage. A comprehensive understanding of the epidemiology of simple elbow dislocation will aid management decisions.



Mayne IP, Wasserstein, Modi CS, Henry P, Mahomed N, Veillette C. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014; 24(1):83-90. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

Associated Sites