Fracture and nonunion of the olecranon in total elbow arthroplasty

Guido Marra*, Bernard F. Morrey, Stephen H. Gallay, Michael D. McKee, Shawn O'Driscoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: While fracture and nonunion of the olecranon have been reported in patients undergoing total elbow arthroplasty, little information exists about the management and outcome of these cases. Methods: Twenty-four patients (twenty-five elbows) were studied; fifteen (sixteen elbows) with rheumatoid arthritis and nine with post-traumatic elbow disorders. Twenty-three of the twenty-five elbows presented with an olecranon fracture or nonunion prior to the reported arthroplasty. During arthroplasty the olecranon fragment was initially treated by tension band in sixteen elbows, excision in four, suture fixation in two and three with stable fibrous union were left alone. Results: At an average follow-up of 66 months (range, 18 to 242), there were twelve excellent, nine good, three fair and one poor results. The mean pre-operative Mayo Elbow Performance Score improved from 42 (range, 20 to 62) points pre-operatively to 86 (range, 50 to 100) points post-operatively (p < 0.001). Of the eighteen patients undergoing an attempt at union, nine (50%) obtained osseous union, eight (45%) developed a stable fibrous union and one patient underwent subsequent excision of the fragment due a superficial infection (5%). Fifteen of twenty-one could extend the hand above the head against gravity. Conclusion: A functional arc of motion and satisfactory clinical outcome can be achieved with osseous or a stable fibrous nonunion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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