The Vacuum Phenomenon in the Elbow: A Case Report

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CASE: A 33-year-old man presented with a closed distal humerus fracture after a fall from scaffolding. Computed tomography demonstrated intra-articular gas, despite the lack of arthrotomy, open fracture, or skin defects. The "vacuum phenomenon" (VP), or the presence of intra-articular gas in closed injuries, has primarily been described in the axial skeleton. To our knowledge, there are no reports in fractures of the elbow.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of the VP is under-reported and represents a lack of physician awareness. The VP should remain a diagnosis of exclusion; however, physicians should be aware of this phenomenon to prevent unnecessary patient harm.


This article was published in JBJS Case Connector, Volume 10, Issue 3.

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Copyright © 2020 The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated.

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JBJS Case Connector

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