JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Plate Fixation of Proximal Humerus Fractures: How to Get It Right and Future Directions for Improvement.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Open reduction and internal fixation with locking plates (ORIF-LP) has been used for decades for the surgical management of proximal humerus fractures. Despite good outcomes have been widely published in the literature, unacceptably high rates of complications (up to 40%), many of them yielding poor outcomes and requiring reoperation (up to 25%), have also been reported, especially in elderly patients. Most common complications are related to implant failure, with intra-articular screw penetration as the most frequent and devastating.

RECENT FINDINGS: Advances in patient selection and surgical technique, and implementation of bone or cement augmentation, have been developed to hopefully decrease complication rates. Mayo-FJD Classification offers prognostic information that can aid in the decision-making process for proximal humeral fractures. Displaced valgus impacted fractures seem to be associated with well over a 10% rate of avascular necrosis after ORIF-LP. A principle-based and stepwise surgical technique combining anatomic reduction and a short screw configuration can provide good outcome in most patients, even the elderly, decreasing implant failures to less than 10%. Acrylic cement augmentation has the potential to further decrease implant failure rate to 1%. Reoperation rates are higher partly due to the need to remove hardware for painful subacromial conflict. However, no studies to date definitively demonstrated the superiority of ORIF-LP compared to non-operative treatment, intramedullary nailing, or reverse shoulder arthroplasty. ORIF-LP can provide good results for the surgical management of displaced proximal humerus fractures even in elderly patients provided adequate patient selection and a principle based and stepwise surgical technique, supplemented with bone graft or acrylic cement when needed. Poor outcomes and high complication and reoperation rates should be expected when these recommendations are not followed.

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