The radius and ulna are the long bones in your forearm. These bones articulate with each other near the elbow and wrist, forming the proximal and distal radioulnar joints respectively. A Monteggia fracture is a rare forearm fracture where the ulna fractures along its length and the head of the radius dislocates from the elbow joint. In severe cases, radial fractures may also be present.
Monteggia fractures are usually caused by falling on an outstretched arm, and commonly seen in children. There may be pain and swelling around the elbow, as well as forearm deformity.
When you present to the clinic with a forearm fracture, your doctor will obtain X-rays of your forearm, wrist and elbow in different angles to determine the location and severity of your fracture, and presence of dislocations. Identifying a radial head dislocation may be challenging and is sometimes missed on preliminary examinations. Delay in intervention may complicate treatment, and lead to less satisfactory outcomes.
Monteggia fractures are considered emergencies and are treated by surgical reduction and internal fixation with plates, pins and screws to fix the fracture and reduce the dislocation.