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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014 Oct;23(10):1462-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2014.01.015. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Elastic stable intramedullary nailing versus Kirschner wire pinning: outcome of severely displaced proximal humeral fractures in juvenile patients.

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Department of Paediatric Orthopaedics, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria. Electronic address:
Department of Paediatric Orthopaedics, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.
Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.



Significantly displaced juvenile proximal humeral fractures (Neer-Horowitz type 3 and 4) usually require reduction and fixation. The most commonly used fixation methods are Kirschner wire (K-wire) pinning or retrograde elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN). However, results comparing the long-term outcome of both methods are absent in the literature. The aim of this study was to provide an outcome comparison of both techniques.


Included were 40 patients treated between 1998 and 2008 and who had complete records concerning operation time, duration of hospital stay, and time until implant removal. The assessment of clinical (Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand [DASH] and Constant-Murley scores) and radiologic long-term outcome was possible in 31 patients (78%). Preoperative, postoperative and follow-up radiographs of these patients were evaluated for angular deformity, reduction, and remodeling.


The mean follow-up of the 31 patients (16 ESIN; 15 K-wire) was 5.8 ± 3.6 (standard deviation) years. The operative time of the primary fixation procedure was shorter in the ESIN group (P < .001), but the hospital stay and the time until implant removal were significantly longer. No significant difference was seen between the groups at follow-up for the mean DASH (ESIN, 1.44; K-wire, 1.66) or Constant-Murley (ESIN, 89.5; K-wire, 92) scores. The neck-shaft angle was significantly improved by reduction in both groups (P < .001) and remained unchanged at follow-up.


ESIN and K-wire pinning have a favorable and comparable functional outcome and therefore seem to be adequate methods for treating Neer-Horowitz type 3 and 4 proximal humeral fractures in juvenile patients. The initially achieved improvement of the neck-shaft angle can be maintained at long-term follow-up.


displaced; growing skeleton; proximal humeral fractures

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