55. Synovial Plica

Case 55

History and Physical Examination

A 43-year-old, right-hand–dominant manual laborer presents with a 6-month history of recurrent lateral elbow pain and catching. He denies frank locking of the elbow. However, repetitive activities such as hammering cause pain and swelling. He denies any numbness, weakness, or loss of elbow motion.

Elbow range of motion demonstrates a 15-degree extension lag and full flexion. Stability testing demonstrates no increased opening to valgus stress and a negative posterolateral rotatory instability test. He is neurovascularly intact, but has tenderness in the area of the posterolateral gutter. He also appears to have a mild effusion in this area. He has no tenderness over the lateral epicondyle and no pain to resisted wrist extension.

Differential Diagnosis

1. Loose body in the elbow

2. Posterolateral rotatory instability

3. Symptomatic synovial plica

4. Olecranon bursitis

5. Lateral epicondylitis

Radiologic Findings

Anteroposterior (AP) and lateral radiographs of the elbow demonstrate no abnormalities.


Symptomatic Posterolateral Synovial Plica. Although a loose body could potentially account for the patient’s symptoms, tenderness and thickening in the area of the posterolateral gutter are very suggestive of a symptomaticposterolateral plica. Patients with symptomatic plicas often present with symptoms suggestive of a loose body. They can sometimes have decreased range of motion suggestive of amechanical block, but no loose body is ever localized by palpation or radiographically. They may or may not have an effusion, but pain is always present in the area of the posterolateral gutter.

Treatment of the symptomatic lesions centers on nonoperative techniques including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications, limitation of activities, and occasional local corticosteroid injections. These interventions will sometimes reduce or even eliminate the symptoms. Failure of nonoperative measures to improve the pain, catching, and swelling in the posterolateral gutter is an indication for surgery.

Jan 28, 2017 | Posted by in ORTHOPEDIC | Comments Off on 55. Synovial Plica
Premium Wordpress Themes by UFO Themes