Triceps Tendon Avulsion Workup

Updated: Oct 09, 2019
  • Author: Bhavuk Garg, MBBS, MS, MRCS(Ortho); Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
  • Print

Laboratory Studies

Laboratory investigations are noncontributory. However, they may help in diagnosing associated conditions, such as chronic renal failure, if such conditions are suspected.


Imaging Studies

Radiography remains the initial imaging modality of choice for evaluating a suspected triceps injury. [24] Regarding diagnostic studies, radiography should be performed in all suspected cases of triceps tendon avulsion. Of the cases reported in the literature, avulsed flecks of bone from the olecranon were demonstrated in approximately 83%. [8, 5, 6] Careful inspection of all radiographs is crucial. If necessary, oblique views of the elbow should be obtained to rule out other fractures.

Lateral radiographs of the elbow are particularly useful for diagnostic confirmation. In Tarsney's study of seven cases of triceps tendon avulsion, lateral radiographs demonstrated bone fragments behind the distal humerus and just proximal to the olecranon in six cases. [6]

Levy et al reported their experience with 16 patients who had concomitant triceps ruptures and fractures of the radial head [25] and noted that triceps ruptures may be overlooked if the posterior aspect of the elbow is not specifically examined. A single avulsed bone fleck present on the lateral radiograph of the elbow may be the only clue for correct diagnosis.

Ultrasonography (US) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed if the diagnosis is uncertain or to confirm clinical suspicion. [26, 27]