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Undisplaced fractures - which are unusual - may be treated conservatively - cast immobilisation for 2-3 weeks with the elbow held in about 60 degrees of flexion, followed by exercise.

Other olecranon fractures usually require surgery:

  • displaced transverse fracture - open reduction and internal fixation - tension band wiring or screws
  • comminuted fractures - as for a displaced transverse fracture unless the fragments cannot be reassembled, are small, or the patient is elderly, in which case, the fragments are excised and the triceps reattached to the ulna.

Complications may arise if the fracture is not sufficiently reduced:

  • stiffness - less likely if early intervention
  • non-union - but further intervention required only if elbow function inadequate
  • osteoarthritis

Last reviewed 01/2018