Distal Triceps Rupture

J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 18, No 1, January 2010

Peter C. Yeh, MD, Seth D. Dodds, MD, L. Ryan Smart, MD, Augustus D. Mazzocca, MS, MD and Paul M. Sethi, MD Distal triceps rupture is an uncommon injury. It is most often associated with anabolic steroid use, weight lifting, and laceration. Other local and systemic risk factors include local steroid injection, olecranon bursitis, and hyperparathyroidism. Distal triceps rupture is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand or a direct blow. Eccentric loading of a contracting triceps has been implicated, particularly in professional athletes. Initial diagnosis may be difficult because a palpable defect is not always present. Pain and swelling may limit the ability to evaluate strength and elbow range of motion. Although plain radiographs are helpful in ruling out other elbow pathology, MRI is used to confirm the diagnosis, classify the injury, and guide management. Incomplete tears with active elbow extension against resistance are managed nonsurgically. Surgical repair is indicated in active persons with complete tears and for incomplete tears with concomitant loss of strength. Good to excellent results have been reported with surgical repair, and very good results have been achieved even for chronic tears.

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