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The Usefulness of MRI in Atypical Pulled/Nursemaid’s Elbow: A Case Report

Richardson, Meghan BS*; Kuester, Victoria G. MD; Hoover, Kevin MD, PhD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: July/August 2012 - Volume 32 - Issue 5 - p e20–e22
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e3182471d87
Upper Extremity

Background: A nursemaid’s elbow most frequently occurs with transient longitudinal traction of the pronated forearm and extended elbow, which can be reduced by manipulation without sedation. There are circumstances in which the history is atypical and reduction of the elbow is unsuccessful. Imaging may be helpful in these cases.

Methods: A 33-month-old child was injured in a fall from a tire swing and sustained what was thought to be a nursemaid’s elbow. Typical reduction maneuvers were unsuccessful. The patient underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with conscious sedation, which demonstrated the entrapment of the annular ligament in the radicapitellar joint. A presumed successful reduction was performed with confirmed reduction of the annular ligament by immediate MRI.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first case report on MRI being used to diagnose and confirm treatment of an atypical nursemaid’s elbow.

Level of Evidence: IV.

*VCU School of Medicine

VCU Medical Center, Richmond, VA

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Victoria G. Kuester, MD, VCU Medical Center, 1200 East Broad St, PO Box 980153, Richmond, VA 23298. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.