Radial head fractures

Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2020 Apr 2;81(4):1-6. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2019.0404. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Radial head fractures are a common fracture involving the elbow joint. Patients typically present after a fall onto an outstretched hand with elbow pain and swelling. Without adequate treatment, this can lead to long-term complications, including loss of elbow motion and pain. Radial head fractures may also be associated with other injuries including elbow dislocation, neighbouring bony fractures and associated ligamentous rupture. It is therefore imperative that hospital clinicians understand the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. The plain radiograph is the optimum method to diagnose a radial head fracture. These fractures can be managed using a variety of techniques, from non-surgical conservative methods for the undisplaced fracture through to surgical fixation, radial head replacement and excision for the more complex, displaced fracture.

Keywords: Elbow; Fracture; Head; Radial; Radius.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Elbow Injuries
  • Elbow Joint / surgery
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods
  • Humans
  • Radius Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Radius Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Radius Fractures / pathology*
  • Radius Fractures / surgery
  • Range of Motion, Articular