An elbow fracture or dislocation is first confirmed with x-rays to assess the severity of the injury and any associated injuries.
Complex fractures require open reduction and internal fixation.
During the procedure an incision is made over the back of the elbow and the bone fragments are first reduced (repositioned) into their normal alignment. The bones are then positioned and held together by a plate attached to the outer bone using pins and screws. In some cases a screw or rod inserted into the bone may be used to keep the bone fragments together while they heal.
If some of the bone is missing or crushed beyond repair (fragments of bone broken off in an accident for example) the fracture may require a bone filler. This can be supplied by the patient (typically taken from the pelvis) or fragment of bone from a bone bank or using an artificial calcium-containing material.
After the incision is closed, a splint may be placed on the arm depending on the severity of the injury.