Floating Elbow Clinical Presentation

Updated: Nov 04, 2021
  • Author: William Oros, MD; Chief Editor: Murali Poduval, MBBS, MS, DNB  more...
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Patients with a floating elbow report pain and have an obvious deformity in the affected extremity. In both adults and children, the occurrence of neurovascular deficit is in the range of 25-45%. Other soft-tissue and associated injuries (eg, open fractures, closed head injuries [CHIs], and thoracoabdominal trauma) depend on the mechanism of injury and the severity of the pathology.


Physical Examination

A thorough physical examination is the benchmark of the initial patient evaluation. Careful documentation of the neurovascular status of the injured limb is crucial. Patients with a persistent pulseless extremity despite fracture reduction should undergo arteriography to rule out vascular injury if a delay in operative intervention is anticipated. Evaluation of soft-tissue viability is important in patients who sustain crush injuries and open fractures. The development of compartment syndrome should be diligently determined and appropriately treated. [21]  All fractures should be reduced and splinted as appropriate.