Elbow Imaging

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Xrays are done predominantly for fractures and other red flag conditions, and are not helpful for conditions such as tendinopathies.

Rules for imaging in the trauma setting

  • Significant force applied to the elbow
  • Immediate loss of elbow function
  • Marked soft tissue swelling / contusion
  • Bony tenderness with no other diagnosis, as a screen for intra-osseous pathology
  • Compression of the joint reproduces pain – as a screen for intra-articular pathology
  • Instability shown on examination (varus / valgus aligned stress testing)
  • Risk factors for osteoporosis or pathological fractures (Paget’s)
  • In the presence of abnormal movements of the elbow (instability / locking)