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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1996 Jun;(327):225-37.

Surgical treatment of complex fracture of the proximal humerus.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


Sixteen patients aged 19 to 63 years (average, 52 years) were observed from 1.8 to 5.6 years (average, 3.8 years) after open reduction and internal fixation with or without external fixation of 3- and 4-part displaced fractures of the proximal humerus. There were 12, 3-part displaced greater tuberosity and surgical neck fractures with 6 concomitant dislocations. Four cases were 4-part fractures with 3 concomitant dislocations. Fixation was achieved with heavy sutures or wire that incorporated the rotator cuff tendon, tuberosities, and shaft combined with threaded pins or Hoffmann external fixation to enhanced stability for early rehabilitation. According to Neer's criteria, 14 (87%) of the 16 patients had satisfactory or excellent results. Two (13%) of the 16 had unsatisfactory results. The use of a technique of limited soft tissue dissection and internal fixation with or without external fixation achieved good fracture stability and a high percentage of satisfactory results. The limitations of the procedure include (1) patients who could not tolerate anesthesia, (2) complex displaced fractures in older patients with osteoporotic bone that cannot hold pins or external fixation, (3) older patients with 4-part fracture dislocations in which avascular necrosis of the humeral head occurs frequently and in which a subsequent endoprosthesis insertion is inappropriate if osteosynthesis fails, and (4) head splitting fractures. The described approach provides an alternative method for the treatment of complex displaced fractures of the proximal humerus.

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