To determine whether a standardized treatment of aseptic humeral shaft nonunions results in union after one operation without substantial complications.
Between 1975 and 1998, fifty-eight patients sustained a humeral shaft fracture that resulted in an aseptic nonunion. Fifty-one patients between the ages of twenty-three and eighty-six years (mean 50.8 years) were included and evaluated.
Surgical treatment consisted of an anterolateral approach with radial nerve identification and subsequent neurolysis, decortication, compression plating, and frequent application of autogenous bone grafts. No immodilization with brace or cast after treatment was functional.
Main Outcome Measures
Success rate of nonunion repair, reinterventions, complications, range of motion, patient satisfaction.
After one year, consolidation was apparent in all cases. All but two patients had an essentially normal range of motion of the shoulder and elbow, and 96 percent rated their result as excellent or good. After nonunion repair, two patients had a transient sensory neuropathy of the radial nerve. In one patient, a second intervention was needed after a fall from bed one week after the index operation.
The results of this study indicate that our standard surgical procedure for treatment of nonunion of the humeral shaft is reliable and achieves consolidation in one procedure without significant complications.