Complications of olecranon osteotomy in the treatment of distal humerus fracture

Kimberley E Spierings*, Bram J Schoolmeesters, Job N Doornberg, Denise Eygendaal, Michel Pj van den Bekerom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Distal humerus fractures (DHFs) are challenging to treat due to the locally complex osseous and soft tissue anatomy. Adequate exposure of the articular surface of the distal humerus is crucial when performing an anatomical reconstruction of the elbow. Even though "triceps-on" approaches are gaining popularity, one of the most commonly used surgical treatments for DHF is olecranon osteotomy. The incidence of complications related to this approach is unclear. This review was performed to assess the type and frequency of complications that occur with the olecranon osteotomy approach in the treatment of DHF. A literature search was conducted in the PubMed/Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Library digital databases up to February 2020. Only English articles describing complications of olecranon osteotomy in the treatment of DHF were included. Data on patient and surgical characteristics and complications were extracted. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS. A total of 41 articles describing 1,700 osteotomies were included, and a total of 447 complications were reported. Of these 447 complications, wound infections occurred in 4.2% of osteotomies, of which 1.4% were deep infections and 2.8% were superficial. Problems related with union occurred in 3.7% of osteotomies, 2% of which represented non-union and 1.7% delayed union. The high risk of complications in olecranon osteotomy must be considered in the decision to perform this procedure in the treatment of DHF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalClinics in shoulder and elbow
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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