The olecranon is a large bony prominence at the proximal end of the ulna. It is palpable at the posterior aspect of the elbow.
- deep nutrient branch of the ulnar artery
The olecranon has a beak-like structure and is bent forwards into the olecranon fossa of the humerus during extension of the elbow. It is present over the posterior surface of the elbow and forms the palpable 'point' of the elbow during its full extension.
The olecranon articulates with the humerus via the olecranon fossa on the humerus, which is situated over the posterior surface of the humerus.
It is continuous with the coronoid process of the ulna via the trochlear or semilunar notch anteriorly. This forms the attachment site for the humerus over the ulnar surface.
- olecranon bursa is situated posterior to the olecranon, in between the joint capsule and the tendon of the triceps brachii muscle
- the radial notch of the ulna articulates with the radius, located over the lateral surface of the olecranon
- anteriorly, the elbow joint capsule is attached to the olecranon surface
- ulnar collateral ligament and the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle attach to the medial surface
- distally, it attaches to the flexor digitorum profundus muscle
- laterally, it attaches to the anconeus muscle
- the ulnar nerve passes in between the olecranon and the medial epicondyle of the humerus 1
The blood supply of the olecranon comes from a deep nutrient branch of the ulnar artery 2.
History and etymology
The term olecranon originates from the Greek words olene meaning elbow and kranon meaning head.
- 1. Susan Standring. Gray's Anatomy. The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. 40th Edition.
- 2. Hardy BT, Glowczewskie F, Wright TW. Vascular anatomy of the proximal ulna. (2011) The Journal of hand surgery. 36 (5): 808-10. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2011.02.011 - Pubmed
- 3. Cavalheiro CS, Filho MR, Rozas J, Wey J, de Andrade AM, Caetano EB. Anatomical study on the innervation of the elbow capsule. (2015) Revista brasileira de ortopedia. 50 (6): 673-9. doi:10.1016/j.rboe.2015.10.001 - Pubmed