terrible triad of the elbow

The terrible triad of the elbow is a severe elbow fracture-dislocation pattern and is so-called because it has poor medium-to-long term outcome.


The terrible triad primarily occurs in adults; the flexibility of ligaments in children make this constellation unlikely .



Most commonly due to a fall onto an outstretched hand, not necessarily high-energy, with the arm in semi-flexion and supination .

Radiographic features

The terrible triad of the elbow is the association of :

  • posterior elbow dislocation
  • coronoid process fracture
  • radial head fracture
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