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Midshaft Malunions of the Clavicle

McKee, Michael D. MD, FRCS(C); Wild, Lisa M. BScN; Schemitsch, Emil H. MD, FRCS(C)

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: May 2003 - Volume 85 - Issue 5 - p 790–797
Scientific Article

Background: The purpose of this study was to analyze the functional results of corrective osteotomy of a malunited clavicular fracture in patients with chronic pain, weakness, neurologic symptoms, and dissatisfaction with the appearance of the shoulder.

Methods: We identified fifteen patients (nine men and six women with a mean age of thirty-seven years) who had a malunion following nonoperative treatment of a displaced midshaft fracture of the clavicle. The mean time from the injury to presentation was three years (range, one to fifteen years). Outcome scores revealed major residual deficits. The mean amount of clavicular shortening was 2.9 cm (range, 1.6 to 4.0 cm). All patients underwent corrective osteotomy of the malunion through the original fracture line and internal fixation.

Results: At the time of follow-up, at a mean of twenty months (range, twelve to forty-two months) postoperatively, the osteotomy site had united in fourteen of the fifteen patients. All fourteen patients expressed satisfaction with the result. The mean DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) score for all fifteen patients improved from 32 points preoperatively to 12 points at the time of follow-up (p = 0.001). The mean shortening of the clavicle improved from 2.9 to 0.4 cm (p = 0.01). There was one nonunion, and two patients had elective removal of the plate.

Conclusions: Malunion following clavicular fracture may be associated with orthopaedic, neurologic, and cosmetic complications. In selected cases, corrective osteotomy results in a high degree of patient satisfaction and improves patient-based upper-extremity scores.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Michael D. McKee, MD, FRCS(C); Lisa M. Wild, BScN; Emil H. Schemitsch, MD, FRCS(C); Upper Extremity Reconstructive Service, Division of Orthopaedics, Department of Surgery, St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto, 55 Queen Street East, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M5C 1R6, Canada. E-mail address for M.D. McKee:

Copyright 2003 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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