Elbow fat pad sign: implications for clinical management

J R Coll Surg Edinb. 1992 Jun;37(3):205-6.


The significance of the radiological fat pad sign indicating elbow joint effusion after trauma when a fracture is not visible remains controversial. This retrospective analysis of 45 cases examines the need for routine repeat radiography at 2-week review. At follow-up, 29 had normal repeat radiographs, two had undisplaced radial head fractures, three had no radiographs but were clinically well and 11 failed to attend. The incidence of fracture in those having repeat radiography was 6%. We conclude that routine repeat radiography is unnecessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Elbow / diagnostic imaging
  • Elbow Injuries*
  • Elbow Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies