Elbow Injuries - Radial Head Fracture

Authors: Melody Glenn, MD, Andrew Little, DO, Mary Haas, MD
Updated: 12/12/2016

Elbow Injuries: Radial Head Fracture

Type 1-4 radial head fracture drawing

X-ray Views

Elbow XR: AP, lateral, +/- radiocapitellate view

Assess for indirect signs of fracture or dislocation on lateral elbow view.

  • Sail sign or posterior fat pad
  • Radiocapitellate line misalignment

Mason Classification

Type Description
I Minimally displaced fracture ≤2 mm
II Fracture fragment displaced >2 mm or angulated
III Comminuted and displaced fracture
IV Associated elbow dislocation

Most common elbow fractures in adults

Operative indications

  • >3 mm displacement
  • 33% articular surface involvement
  • Angulated >30°
  • Associated elbow dislocation

Acute Management

  • Type I: Sling
  • Type II-IV: Long-arm posterior splint with elbow at 90° flexion (after type IV elbow dislocation reduced)

Follow-up Timing

  • If operative: ≤3 days
  • If non-operative: <1-2 weeks with early mobilization in 48 hours to minimize elbow stiffness