Elbow dislocation is common in adults, and complex elbow dislocations are generally associated with bone fractures. Anteromedial coronoid fracture, in association with lateral collateral ligament (LCL) disruption, often results from varus posteromedial forces. “Terrible triad” injuries are more likely to result from valgus posterolateral forces. However, our case presentation has combined medial and lateral elbow instability in addition to “terrible triad” injury of the elbow with no radial head injury.
The patient was a 38-year-old man with an atypical complex elbow dislocation. He was successfully treated by stabilizing the medial epicondyle and coronoid anterolateral facet fractures, in addition to LCL repair and medial collateral ligament (MCL) reconstruction. A radial head fracture was unnoted. The procedure yielded satisfactory functional outcome, with a stable and painless full elbow range of motion.
Multi-ligament injuries with coronoid fractures result in highly unstable elbow joints, forming a variant of the “terrible triad” injury. Surgical options vary according to the surgeon’s experience and equipment availability. In this case, direct LCL repair and MCL reconstruction were performed and were well tolerated. Elbow stability improved and the patient experienced improved functionality with minimal pain. However, it may be premature to report a definite outcome in this case because of short follow-up time postoperatively.
The injury described in this case has a unique presentation as a multi-ligamentous injury will make the elbow very unstable. Thus, careful clinical judgment, knowledge, and experience are needed to identify the underlying injury and for optimal management.