Olecranon fracture

This page is for adult patients. For pediatric patients, see: olecranon fracture (peds)


  • Occurs via direct trauma or by fall with forced hyperextension of elbow
  • Common in high energy mechanism in young and falls in elderly
  • Associated injuries are common:
    • Dislocations, radial head fracture, ulnar nerve injury

Clinical Features

  • Pain, swelling, and occasionally over posterior elbow
  • Assess extensor mechanism by assessing elbow extension against resistance
  • Forearm extension strength is reduced (triceps inserts at the olecranon)

Differential Diagnosis

Elbow Diagnoses





Fracture of the olecranon (arrow).
Fracture of the olecranon on PA and lateral.
  • AP lateral, requires true lateral
  • Radiocapitellar view helps visualize radial head fracture, capitellar shear fracture
  • CT can assist with operative planning


General Fracture Management

Specific Management

  • Rule-out ulnar nerve injury
  • Immobilize with long arm posterior mold with elbow in flexion and forearm neutral
  • Refer to ortho within 24hr
  • Elderly with limited mobility, consider non-op, splint at 45-90 degrees for 3-4 weeks

See Also


  • Orthobullets