Comparison of olecranon plate fixation in osteoporotic bone: Do current technologies and designs make a difference?

Scott G. Edwards, Benjamin D. Martin, Rose H. Fu, Joseph M. Gill, Mani K. Nezhad, Jeffrey A. Orr, Allen M. Ferrucci, James M. Love, Richard Booth, Andrea Singer, Adam H. Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES:: The purpose of this study is to determine if recent innovations in olecranon plates have any advantages in stabilizing osteoporotic olecranon fractures. METHODS:: Five olecranon plates (Acumed, Synthes-SS, Synthes-Ti, US Implants/ITS, and Zimmer) were implanted to stabilize a simulated comminuted fracture pattern in 30 osteoporotic cadaveric elbows. Specimens were randomized by bone mineral density per dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan. Three-dimensional displacement analysis was conducted to assess fragment motion through physiological cyclic arcs of motion and failure loading, which was statistically compared using one-way analysis of variance and Tukey honestly significant difference post hoc comparisons with a critical significance level of α = 0.05. RESULTS:: Bone mineral density ranged from 0.546 g/cm to 0.878 g/cm with an average of 0.666 g/cm. All implants limited displacement of the fragments to less than 3 mm until sudden, catastrophic failure as the bone of the proximal fragment pulled away from the implant. The maximum load sustained by all osteoporotic specimens ranged from 1.6 kg to 6.6 kg with an average of 4.4 kg. There was no statistical difference between the groups in terms of cycles survived and maximum loads sustained. CONCLUSIONS:: Cyclic physiological loading of osteoporotic olecranon fracture fixation resulted in sudden, catastrophic failure of the bone-implant interface rather than in gradual implant loosening. Recent plate innovations such as locking plates and different screw designs and positions appear to offer no advantages in stabilizing osteoporotic olecranon fractures. Surgeons may be reassured that the current olecranon plates will probably adequately stabilize osteoporotic fractures for early motion in the early postoperative period, but not for heavy activities such as those that involve over 4 kg of resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-311
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • biomechanics
  • elbow
  • locking plates
  • olecranon fractures
  • plate fixation


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of olecranon plate fixation in osteoporotic bone: Do current technologies and designs make a difference?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this