[Intramedullary stabilisation of displaced midshaft clavicular fractures: does the fracture pattern (simple vs. complex) influence the anatomic and functional result]

R Langenhan, N Reimers, A Probst
Zeitschrift Für Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie 2014, 152 (6): 588-95

BACKGROUND: Displaced midshaft clavicular fractures are often treated operatively. The most common way of treatment is plating. Elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) is an alternative, but seldom used. Studies showed comparable or even better results for intramedullary nailing than for plating in simple 2- or 3-fragment midshaft fractures. The indication of ESIN for multifragmentary clavicular fractures is discussed critically in the literature because of reduced primary stability and danger of secondary shortening. Until now only few studies report functional results after fracture healing depending on the fracture type. To the best of our knowledge there is no study showing significantly worse functional scores for ESIN in complex displaced midshaft fractures. The objective of this study was to examine anatomic and functional results of simple (2 or 3 fragments, OTA type 15B1 and 15B2) and complex (multifragmentary, OTA type 15B3) displaced midshaft clavicula fractures after internal fixation.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 2009 and 2012, 40 patients (female/male 10/30; mean age 33 [16-60] years) with closed displaced midshaft clavicular fractures were treated by open reduction and ESIN (Titanium Elastic Nail [TEN], Synthes, Umkirch, Germany). Thirty-seven patients were retrospectively analysed after a mean of 27 (12-43) months. Twenty patients (group A) had simple fractures (OTA type 15B1 and 15B2), 17 patients (group B) had complex fractures (OTA type 15B3). All shoulder joints were postoperatively treated functionally for six weeks without weight limited to 90° abduction/flexion. Both groups were comparable in gender, age, body mass index, months until metal removal, number of physiotherapy sessions and time until follow-up examination. Joint function (neutral zero method) and strength (standing patient with arm in 90° abduction, holding 1-12 kg for 5 sec) in both shoulders were documented. The distance between the centre of the jugulum and the lateral acromial border was measured for both sides. The DASH, Constant-Murley, Oxford shoulder and clavicular scores (Jubel) were calculated. Patients documented contentedness of outcome by VAS between 0 (absolute discontented) and 10 (very contented). Complications were recorded.

RESULTS: Operatively treated displaced midshaft clavicular fractures. in comparison to the healthy side in group A had an average shortening of 5 (0-20) mm and in group B of 10 (3-25) mm, with a statistical significance between both groups. Patients of both groups were very contented with the results (VAS group A: 9.6; B: 9.5). DASH score (group A: 28; B: 3.1), Constant-Murley score (group A: 95.0; B: 93.8), Oxford shoulder score (group A: 46.2; B: 45.9) and the clavicula score (Jubel) (group A: 1.2; B: 2.1) were comparable between both groups without significance. In 4 patients (11%) complications occurred. Once (group B) an infection was seen, three times (group B) the ESIN had to be shortened on the medial side because of telescoping.

CONCLUSION: Open ESIN of simple and complex displaced midshaft clavicular fractures leads after an average of 27 months to good or even excellent results. Healing of the clavicle in a modestly shortened position does not impair the patient.

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