To develop a system of quantification of shoulder girdle injuries that stratifies their severity and to assess the association between shoulder girdle injuries and associated nonbony injuries to the head, thorax, and great vessels.
Level I trauma center.
Trauma registry data from all patients who required admission to the hospital from October 1995 through January 2008, specifically patients with shoulder girdle injuries. Excluded were patients with isolated burns and late effects of injuries.
Main Outcome Measures:
The patterns of shoulder girdle injury and their association with severe, nonorthopaedic injuries (head, thoracic, and great vessel). Also, the severity of all combinations of shoulder girdle injuries were observed using two systems (relative risk totals and injury severity score).
Of 52,924 patients recorded, 2971 had 3811 shoulder girdle injuries. High-energy mechanisms prevailed, causing over 91% of all shoulder girdle injuries. The rates of head, great vessel, and thoracic injury in patients with a shoulder girdle injury were 31.5%, 3.9%, and 36.8%, respectively, and were significant when compared with nonshoulder girdle injuries (P < 0.001). The two most severe injury combinations included a sternum injury with either a clavicle or scapula fracture.
Shoulder girdle injuries are strongly associated with great vessel, thoracic, and head injuries. In the presence of a sternum injury with a clavicle fracture or any open clavicle fracture, we recommend the routine use of a contrast-enhanced spiral thoracic computed tomography scan to aid in the diagnosis of a great vessel injury.