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Injury. 2006 Mar;37(3):218-27. Epub 2005 Jun 17.

The floating shoulder.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Spaarne Hospital Hoofddorp, P.O. Box 770, 2130 AT Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.


Ipsilateral scapular neck and clavicular shaft fractures comprise the so-called "floating shoulder". This rare injury, which is, in general, caused by a high-energy trauma, is perceived to be an unstable injury with the considerable risk of significant displacement of scapular neck and/or the clavicular fracture. An understanding of the patho-anatomy is important in identifying a floating shoulder and to offer rational treatment for this injury. The current status of the anatomical, biomechanical and clinical aspects of a floating shoulder is reviewed in this article. Recommendations for treatment of particularly displaced ipsilateral fractures of the scapular neck and clavicular shaft cannot be derived from the reported clinical studies. The possible correlation between functional outcome and malunion of the scapular neck is called into doubt.

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