Posterolateral rotatory instability of the elbow

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2008 Mar;90(3):272-9. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.90B3.19868.


Posterolateral rotatory instability is the most common type of symptomatic chronic instability of the elbow. In this condition the forearm complex rotates externally in relation to the humerus, causing posterior subluxation or dislocation of the radial head. The lateral ligament complex, radial head and coronoid process are important constraints to posterolateral rotatory instability, and their disruption is involved in the pathogenesis of this condition. The diagnosis relies on a high index of clinical suspicion, active and passive apprehension tests, and examination under anaesthesia. Surgical treatment has given consistently successful results. Open reconstruction of the lateral ligaments with a tendon graft has been the procedure of choice, with arthroscopic techniques emerging as a potential alternative.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collateral Ligaments / pathology
  • Collateral Ligaments / surgery
  • Elbow Joint / physiopathology*
  • Elbow Joint / surgery
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Radius / physiopathology
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rotation
  • Ulna / physiopathology