The epidemiology of fractures of the proximal ulna

Injury. 2012 Mar;43(3):343-6. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2011.10.017. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Introduction: The aim of our study was to report the epidemiological characteristics of fractures of the proximal ulna.

Methods: From our prospective trauma database of 6872 fractures, we identified all acute fractures of the proximal ulna from a 1-year period between July 2007 and June 2008. Age, gender, mode of injury, fracture classifications, associated injuries and treatment were the factors documented and analysed.

Results: There were 78 fractures of the proximal ulna with a mean age of 57 years (15-97). Males (n=35) sustained their fracture at a significantly younger age than females (p=0.041), with no gender predominance seen (p=0.365). The overall fracture distribution was a unimodal older male and unimodal older female type-F curve. The most common mode of injury was a simple fall from standing height (n=52, 67%), with younger patients more likely to sustain their injuries following a high-energy mechanism such as sports or a motor vehicle collision (p<0.001). Seventeen (22%) patients sustained associated injuries to the ipsilateral limb, with an associated proximal radial fracture most frequent (n=13, 17%). Open fractures were seen in five (6.4%) patients. A total of 64 patients had a fracture of the olecranon, with the Mayo 2A most frequently seen (n=47, 60%).

Conclusions: Fractures of the proximal ulna are fragility fractures that predominantly occur in elderly patients. Given the number of elderly patients sustaining these injuries, research is needed to determine the role of non-operative treatment for these fractures, particularly in patients with multiple co-morbidities and low functional demands.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olecranon Process / injuries*
  • Olecranon Process / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Ulna Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Ulna Fractures / surgery
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Young Adult