Atraumatic osteonecrosis of the adult elbow

Tung B. Le, Michael A. Mont, Lynne C. Jones, Dawn M. LaPorte, David S. Hungerford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Osteonecrosis is a disease that leads to joint destruction and often involves large joints, such as the hips, knees, and shoulders. Nontraumatic osteonecrosis of the adult elbow, to the best of the authors' knowledge, has not been reported. Nine adult patients with atraumatic osteonecrosis of 11 elbows were identified. The mean age at presentation was 36 years (range, 26- 63 years); five patients were women and four were men. Six elbows involved the capitellum, three involved the lateral epicondyles, one involved the trochlea and radial head, and one involved medial and lateral epicondylar disease. All patients were receiving corticosteroid therapy, and no relationship between the duration or the amount of corticosteroid use and the severity of the osteonecrosis was found. Seven patients with radiographic Stage I and Stage II disease responded well to nonoperative treatments consisting of activity modification, analgesics, and a brief period of immobilization. Nonoperative treatment failed in two patients with Stage III disease, and they had core decompressions for pain relief. One patient with late Stage III disease in both elbows underwent bilateral total elbow arthroplasties. In contrast to the pediatric population, osteonecrosis of the adult elbow potentially can lead to end stage arthritis. If the osteonecrosis is diagnosed early, nonoperative treatment may be effective in relieving pain, although the long-term results of these treatments remain unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-145
Number of pages5
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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