The aim of this study was to examine the results of different modalities applied in the treatment of 104 fresh diaphyseal fractures of the adult humerus treated in the department between January 1994 and March 1997. These results were classified according to the criteria described by Stewart and Hundley. 32 patients (30.8%) were treated non-operatively using a sling and a moulded plaster splint. The type of treatment had to be changed in 12 of these patients due to 14 different complications that occurred during the course of non-operative treatment. Thus, 20 patients (62.5%) underwent non- operative treatment until fracture-union. The results in this group were: very good in 12 cases (60%), good in 5 cases (25%), fair in 3 cases (15%). 28 fractures were treated using plates and screws. 4 events (14%) occured during in the post-operative period and, apart from 2 cases of non-union, the overall result in the 26 patients in whom the fracture united was: very good in 23 cases (88.5%) and good in 3 cases (11.5%). 22 patients (21.1%) underwent fixation using multiple flexible intramedullary wires via a supracondylar approach. Apart from one case of non-union, the final result in the 21 patients in whom the fracture united was: very good in 9 cases (42.8%), good in 9 cases (42.8%), fair in 2 cases (9.5%) and poor in 1 case (4.9%). 22 fractures were treated using an intramedullary Seidel nail. The final result in these patients was: very good in 11 cases (50%), good in 9 cases (41%) and poor in 2 cases (9%). The indications for treatment should be eclectic. Non-operative treatment remains the method of choice for undisplaced or minimally-displaced fractures or comminuted fractures with multiple parallel longitudinal fracture-lines over the middle-third, while surgical treatment is considered for displaced fractures and essentially depends upon the type and level of the fracture. Transverse and short oblique fractures are treated using a plate or a Seidel nail. Fractures with a third fragment require plate osteosynthesis. Muliple flexible intramedullary wires are used for segmental fractures or for diaphyseal fractures associated with fractures of the neck of the humerus. Comminuted fractures are realigned using an intramedullary Seidel nail or muliple fleible wires. As far as the site of fracture is concerned, those of the proximal and middle thirds of the humerus are well treated using an intramedullary nail or multiple wires or with a plate, while plating is most often the method of choice for fractures of the distal-third.
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