Nonoperative Management of Olecranon Fractures in Elderly Patients: A Systematic Review

Christina A. Alvara*, Griffin Biedron, John C. Dunn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite increased utilization of conservative measures for displaced olecranon fractures in elderly patients, in whom operative fixation may be complicated by coexisting comorbidities and declining bone quality, the noninferiority of nonoperative management has yet to be proven. The purpose of this study was to review nonoperative management of displaced olecranon fractures in the elderly patient population. Methods: A literature search of the PubMed database was performed using the term olecranon fracture. Papers included those with results for patients aged 65 years and older published between 1990 and 2018 in the English language. Data were pooled to analyze outcomes and complications of nonoperative management of olecranon fractures in the elderly patient population. Results: Four eligible studies combined for a total of 69 patients with 70 fractures with an average age of 83.8 years (71-95 years), female predominance of 88%, and a mean follow-up of 12.4 months who underwent nonoperative management of displaced olecranon fractures. While only 25% of fractures went on to radiographic union, the mean Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 16.9 (0-59.6), the mean arc of motion was 138°, and 92% of patients achieved excellent results. One-quarter (26%) of the patients experienced complications: radial head subluxation (1), skin sore (1), degenerative arthropathy (1), pain on movement (2), click in movement of the elbow (5), and local pain (8). Conclusion: Displaced olecranon fractures in patients aged older than 70 years may be effectively managed with nonoperative measures to produce high satisfaction and functional range of motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-739
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • anatomy
  • diagnosis
  • elbow
  • fracture/dislocation
  • outcomes
  • research and health outcomes
  • specialty
  • surgery
  • treatment


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