When the elbow dislocates, the joint capsule and ligaments are completely torn.
If there are no associated fractures the elbow is usually stable after reduction, and surgery is not helpful.
An elbow with a fractured radial head and an intact coronoid is at low risk of dislocating. However, deformity of the radial head can hinder forearm rotation.
If both the radial head and the coronoid are fractured, the elbow is at high risk of dislocating. Repair of the fractures will help stabilize the elbow.