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Injury. 2013 Nov;44(11):1579-81. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 Jul 1.

Perioperative risks associated with the operative treatment of clavicle fractures.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Division of Orthopaedic Trauma, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA. Electronic address:



Clavicle fractures are a common injury among young adults who were historically treated non-operatively with satisfactory outcomes. However, more recent studies have shown a higher nonunion rate for displaced clavicle fractures treated conservatively. The purpose of this study is to investigate the midterm complications, clinical outcomes and overall patient satisfaction after osteosynthesis of midshaft clavicular fractures.


A total of 37 patients treated for a clavicle fracture from January 2007 to December 2008 with at least 12 months' follow-up were identified from a billing code search. At the latest follow-up appointment, the patients completed the Constant Shoulder, the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand scale (DASH) and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey version 2.0 (SF36v2) functional outcome surveys as well as a custom questionnaire to assess hand dominance, employment status, the amount of time taken before returning to work, the presence of numbness around the incision site (a surrogate marker of a supraclavicular nerve palsy), whether the patient desired the plate removed and/or if it was worth another surgery.


With regard to the functional outcome surveys, the average DASH score was 11.8 ± 16.4, the Constant score was 93.3 ± 7.2, the SF36v2 physical component summary (PCS) was 50.7 ± 10.1 and the SF36v2 mental component summary (MCS) 50.6 ± 11.2. From the custom questionnaire, 27 patients (73%) found their cosmetic appearance acceptable while the remaining 10 patients (27%) were bothered by the appearance of the plate. The average time to return to work was 82.1 ± 77.4 days. There were no infections, refractures or nonunions of the clavicle.


As the relative indications for open reduction and internal fixation of clavicle fractures become more popular, such as cosmetic concerns or faster recovery, we wish to demonstrate that the procedure is not without risks, including implant discomfort requiring a subsequent operation for removal, numbness around the incision site and infection. Despite these risks, patients tend to be satisfied with the procedure and are able to function at levels equal to that of the general population. The purpose of this study is not to recommend for or against operative treatment of clavicle fractures but merely to demonstrate risks associated with the procedure.


Clavicle fracture; Complications; Orthopaedics

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