Treatment of humeral shaft fractures with the Seidel intramedullary nail

G I Bain, M J Sandow, D W Howie
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 1996, 66 (3): 156-8

BACKGROUND: The use of intremedullary nails for the management of humeral shaft fractures has been controversial. Recently, the Seidel nail has become available. The purpose of this study was to review our initial experience with the Seidel nail.

METHODS: A retrospective clinical and radiographic review of 25 consecutive patients treated with Seidel intramedullary humeral nail was performed. The nail was used for non-union in 10 patients, delayed union in four, acute fracture in eight and pathological fracture in three. Eighteen of the 19 survivors were clinically reviewed at an average of 15 months (range 8-15). Pain, function, satisfaction, shoulder power, range of motion and clinical outcome were graded using the UCLA shoulder score.

RESULTS: Pain was present at the shoulder in four patients and at the fracture site in nine. Average shoulder abduction was 99 degrees and nine patients could not abduct the shoulder past 90 degrees. Sixty-six percent of patients reviewed were graded as only fair or poor using the UCLA shoulder score. In three patients rotational control was not achieved with the distal locking device at the time of surgery. Complications included non-union in 10 patients and three intra-operative fractures.

CONCLUSIONS: Non-union was more likely to occur if rotational control was not obtained, or if the patient had the nail inserted for a previous non-union. Use of the Seidel nail frequently leads to shoulder pain and dysfunction. The distal locking device is unreliable and predisposes to non-union. We do not recommend the continued use of the Seidel nail.

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