Elbow luxation and reduction for veterinarians

Elbow luxations are not very common in dogs and cats but when they do present it is important to get the luxation reduced.  It might sound/seem confusing or complicated but do watch the video to the end as I use bones to help you visualize what’s going on.  Also please just trust in the process described as the elbow joint often easily pops into place with this manoeuvre.  Once it is reduced, it tends to stay there.  This is often easier than it looks.

If it does not work after a few tries then consider referring the pet for an open (surgical) reduction.  Prognosis with a closed reduction is excellent if the collateral ligaments are not damaged and very good to good with an open reduction and/or damaged collateral ligaments.  Please see the video on diagnosing damaged elbow collateral ligaments.

Usually the radius and ulna will move laterally.

  • Place the elbow in a flexed position
  • internally rotate/pronate the radius/ulna while pushing the tip of the anconeus over the lateral humeral epicondyle.
  • Slightly extend the elbow now to lock the anconeus in place
  • Now apply pressure to the lateral aspect of the radial head while pushing while flexing the elbow a bit.