Tension Band Wiring of the Olecranon: A Biomechanical Study

Jose Ma D. Bautista and Rene Edgardo C. Manalastas

Department of Orthopedics, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila


Objective. Hardware prominence is the most common cause of reoperation in patients who have undergone tension band wiring for fractures of the olecranon. The study was conducted to compare the strength of four different constructs of tension band wiring of the olecranon.

Methods. A transverse fracture was created in twenty cadaveric ulnas which were equally divided into four groups according to the method of fixation: 1-Single tension band, intramedullary k-wire fixation; 3-Double tension band, transcortical k-wire fixation; 4-Double tension band, intramedullary k-wire fixation. All specimens were mounted on a universal testing machine using a custom-made fixation jig. They were tested under a single cycle load to failure. The maximum failure load was measured for all speciments.

Results. There was no significant difference in the maximum load to failure among the four treatment groups.

Conclusion. No differences in the maximum load to failure were noted in between treatment groups, regardless if single or double tension band wiring was done, and regardless if k-wire fixation was transcortical or medullary. These findings would support the argument that any of the desired fixation methods may be used.

Key Words: olecranon fracture, tension band wiring, biomechanical study