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Clavicle Lengthening by Distraction Osteogenesis for Congenital Clavicular Hypoplasia: Case Series and Description of Technique

Sewell, Mathew D. MRCS, BSc; Higgs, Deborah S. FRCS (Orth); Lambert, Simon M. FRCS (Orth)

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: April/May 2013 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 314–320
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e3182784e79
Upper Extremity

Background: Malformation and hypoplasia of the clavicle can result in pain, impaired function, restricted shoulder movement, subjective feeling of instability, and cosmetic deformity. There are no reports of clavicle lengthening by osteotomy and distraction osteogenesis (DO).

Methods: This is a retrospective review of 5 patients (7 clavicles) who underwent clavicle lengthening by DO using a monolateral external fixator for clavicular hypoplasia. There were 3 males and 2 females with the mean age of 15 years (9 to 23 y) and mean follow-up of 35 months (12 to 66 mo). Preoperative diagnoses included Klippel-Feil syndrome, cleidocranial dysplasia with hemihypertrophy and torticollis, congenital myopathy and Noonans syndrome, and obstetric brachial plexus injury.

Results: Mean length gained was 31 mm (15 to 41 mm) that represents an average of 24.7% of overall bone length. Mean time in fixator was 174 days (161 to 263 d) and mean external fixation index was 56 d/cm. Two patients required internal fixation after fixator removal to consolidate union and 1 required additional internal fixation for atrophic regeneration. Mean preoperative oxford shoulder score improved from 28.5 to 41 and all patients were extremely satisfied with their result. Two patients developed pin-site infections.

Conclusions: Clavicular lengthening by DO for congenital clavicular hypoplasia is a previously unreported technique that enables gradual correction of deformity without risking brachial plexus traction injury after acute correction. It has the potential to improve shoulder pain, function, range of movement, and cosmesis. Distraction ≥25% of overall bone length may require additional plate fixation to consolidate union.

Level of Evidence: Level IV—therapeutic study.

Shoulder and Elbow Service, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, UK

None of the authors received financial support for this study.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Mathew D. Sewell, MRCS, BSc, The Shoulder and Elbow Service, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore HA7 4LP, UK. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.