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Bone Joint J. 2017 Aug;99-B(8):1095-1101. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.99B8.BJJ-2016-1318.R1.

Plate fixation versus intramedullary nailing of completely displaced midshaft fractures of the clavicle: a prospective randomised controlled trial.

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University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Akershus, Norway.
Stavanger University Hospital, Helse Stavanger HF, Stavanger, Norway.
Campus Ahus, 6 HØKH, Research Centre, Akershus University Hospital, Norway and University of Oslo Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Campus AHUS, Oslo, Norway.



This is a prospective randomised controlled trial comparing the functional outcomes of plate fixation and elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) of completely displaced mid-shaft fractures of the clavicle in the active adult population.


We prospectively recruited 123 patients and randomised them to either plate fixation or ESIN. Patients completed the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score at one to six weeks post-operatively. They were followed up at six weeks, three and six months and one year with radiographs, and their clinical outcome was assessed using both the DASH and the Constant Score.


Plate fixation provided a faster functional recovery during the first six months compared with ESIN, but there was no difference after one year. The duration of surgery was shorter for ESIN (mean 53.4 minutes, 22 to 120) than for plate fixation (mean 69.7 minutes, 35 to 106, p < 0.001). The recovery after ESIN was slower with increasing fracture comminution and with open reduction (p < 0.05).


Both methods return the patients to their pre-injury functional levels, but plate fixation has a faster recovery period in comminuted fractures than ESIN. ESIN has a shorter operative time and lower infection and implant rates of failure when using 2.5 mm nails or wider, suggesting that this is the preferred method in mid-shaft fractures with no comminution, whereas plate fixation is the superior method in comminuted fractures. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:1095-1101.


Constant score; DASH; Displaced; ESIN; Intramedullary nailing; Midshaft clavicle; Plate fixation

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