“How the Wrightington classification of traumatic elbow instability can simplify the algorithm for treatment”

Zaid Hamoodi, Adam C. Watts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There are numerous injury patterns of elbow-fracture dislocation that can lead to confusion about the best surgical management. The Wrightington classification aims to provide a simple categorization based on the injury to the coronoid process and the three column concept of the elbow osseous stability that describes a medial column consisting of the anteromedial coronoid facet and sublime tubercle, the middlecolumn is the anterolateral coronoid facet, and the lateral column is the radial head and lateral ligament complex with a fulcrum for varus/valgus stability between the two coronoid facets. Injuries are classified as type A (anteromedial facet/medial-column), B (bifacet/ medial and middle-columns), B+ (bifacet with radial head/all three columns), C (combined radial head and anterolateral facet/middle and lateral-columns), D (distal to coronoid where coronoid is in continuity with olecranon process), and D+ (distal to coronoid with radial head fracture). With each bony injury pattern, we can anticipate which soft tissue constraints are likely to be involved and the importance of their repair to restore stability, and thereby develop algorithms for management. The Wrightington classification has been shown to be reliable and valid. A consecutive series of 60 patients with elbow-fracture dislocation managed according to the surgical algorithms of the Wrightington classification have been reported to have excellent outcomes with a median Mayo Elbow Performance Score of 100 (interquartile 85-100) and flexion/extension arc of movement of 123° (interquartile 101°-130°). In conclusion, the Wrightington classification of elbow-fracture dislocation is a comprehensive, reliable, and valid classification with treatment algorithms that are associated with good functional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2569-2577
Number of pages9
JournalJSES International
Issue number6
Early online date30 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


  • Elbow-fracture dislocation
  • Instability
  • Narrative Review
  • Outcomes
  • Reliability
  • Surgical algorithms
  • Wrightington classification


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