fracture (olecranon)

Last reviewed 01/2018

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.