Anatomic reconstruction of unstable lateral clavicular fractures

René D Largo, Mark A Rudin, Thomas K Hotz, Victor Valderrabano, Kurt K Käch
Journal of Trauma 2011, 71 (5): 1348-51

BACKGROUND: Fractures of the lateral clavicle result in a high rate of nonunion compared with midshaft fractures. Many operative treatment methods of unstable lateral clavicle fractures have been described, but no single method has become generally accepted. This study reports our experience treating unstable lateral clavicle fractures with coracoclavicular ligament rupture.

METHODS: Within 7 years, 19 patients with acute unstable lateral clavicle fractures were treated using a 2.4-mm T-plate and a coracoclavicular polydioxanone cord. The follow-up averaged 5.3 years (range, 2.0-8.8). Shoulder function was assessed using the Constant score and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score. General health of the patients was evaluated according to the Short Form 36 questionnaire.

RESULTS: Eighteen of the 19 patients treated with our method achieved union at 8.8 weeks (range, 6-14), a Constant Murley score of 91.5 (range, 72-100) on the injured side versus 93.5 (range, 80-100) on the contralateral side, a Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score of 1.4 (range, 0-9.2), and a Short Form 36 Health Score of 85 (range, 89-100). One patient showed breakage of the plate and a delayed union at the radiologic follow-up 4 months after surgery.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that treatment of unstable lateral clavicular fractures with an angular stable locking plate together with a polydioxanone cord ligament augmentation leads to excellent results with a 95% union rate. Additional coracoclavicular augmentation next to plate fixation of the clavicle may partially solve the problem of uncertain plate fixation if the lateral fragment is small and multifragmented, as often observed.

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