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Bone Joint J. 2013 Jun;95-B(6):815-9. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.95B6.31060.

A prospective study comparing conservative with operative treatment in patients with a 'floating shoulder' including assessment of the prognostic value of the glenopolar angle.

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Banaras Hindu University, Institute of Medical Sciences, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India.


Both conservative and operative forms of treatment have been recommended for patients with a 'floating shoulder'. We compared the results of conservative and operative treatment in 25 patients with this injury and investigated the use of the glenopolar angle (GPA) as an indicator of the functional outcome. A total of 13 patients (ten male and three female; mean age 32.5 years (24.7 to 40.4)) were treated conservatively and 12 patients (ten male and two female; mean age 33.67 years (24.6 to 42.7)) were treated operatively by fixation of the clavicular fracture alone. Outcome was assessed using the Herscovici score, which was also related to changes in the GPA at one year post-operatively. The mean Herscovici score was significantly better three months and two years after the injury in the operative group (p < 0.001 and p = 0.003, respectively). There was a negative correlation between the change in GPA and the Herscovici score at two years follow-up in both the conservative and operative groups, but neither were statistically significant (r = -0.295 and r = -0.19, respectively). There was a significant difference between the pre- and post-operative GPA in the operative group (p = 0.017). When compared with conservative treatment, fixation of the clavicle alone gives better results in the treatment of patients with a floating shoulder. The GPA changes significantly with fixation of clavicle alone but there is no significant correlation between the pre-injury GPA and the final clinical outcome in these patients.


Clavicle; Floating shoulder; Fracture; Glenopolar angle; Plating; Scapula

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