Clavicular fractures represent 2.6% to 5% of all fractures, and middle third fractures account for 69% to 82% of fractures of the clavicle. The junction of the outer and middle third is the thinnest part of the bone and is the only area not protected by or reinforced with muscle and ligamentous attachments. These anatomic features make it prone to fracture, particularly with a fall on the point of the shoulder, which results in an axial load to the clavicle. Optimal treatment of nondisplaced or minimally displaced midshaft fracture is with a sling or figure-of-8 dressing; the nonunion rate is very low. However, when midshaft clavicular fractures are completely displaced or comminuted, and when they occur in elderly patients or females, the risk of nonunion, cosmetic deformity, and poor outcome may be markedly higher. Thus, some surgeons propose surgical stabilization of a complex midshaft clavicular fracture with either plate-and-screw fixation or intramedullary devices. Further randomized, prospective trials are needed to provide better data on which to base treatment decisions.
Dr. Jeray is Program Director, Orthopaedic Surgery Education, Greenville Hospital System, Greenville, SC.
Neither Dr. Jeray nor the department with which he is affiliated has received anything of value from or owns stock in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
Reprint requests: Dr. Jeray, Greenville Hospital System, University Medical Center, Orthopaedic Surgery Education, 701 Grove Road, 2nd Floor ERC Support Tower, Greenville, SC 29605.