The olecranon is relatively easily fractured as the lower end of the humerus functions as a chisel. Most fractures are avulsion fractures caused by triceps contraction.
Two types of fracture of the olecranon are encountered:
- comminuted - from a direct blow to the olecranon
- transverse - from a traction lesion as the patient falls on the hand with the triceps contracted
On examination, the patient is unable to extend the elbow against resistance. Additionally:
- a comminuted fracture may be grazed or bruised over the elbow
- a transverse fracture may demonstrate a palpable gap
Left untreated, the fragments separate widely and non-union results.
Last reviewed 01/2018