Sequelae from clavicular fractures are common: A prospective study of 222 patients

  • Nowak J
  • Holgersson M
  • Larsson S
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Abstract

Background Nonoperative treatment is preferred for clavicular fractures irrespective of fracture and patient characteristics. However, recent studies indicate that long term results are not as favourable as previously considered. Methods We have identified predictive risk factors associated with demographic and baseline data on cla-vicular fractures. In particular, the following symptoms were investigated: pain at rest, pain during activity, cosmetic defects, reduction in strength, paresthesia and nonunion until 6 months after injury. We followed 222 patients with a radiographically verified fracture of the clavicle, and who were at least 15 years of age, for 6 months. Results Nonunion occurred in 15 patients (7%). 93 patients (42%) still had sequelae at 6 months. Displace-ment of more than one bone width was the strongest radiographic risk factor for symptoms and sequelae. Both radiographic projections used in this study (0° and 45° tilted view) provided important information. A com-minute fracture and higher age were associated with an increased risk of symptoms remaining at 6 months. Shortening was not predictive of functional outcome; nor was the site of the fracture in the clavicle. Interpretation The risk for persistent symptoms fol-lowing nonoperative treatment of clavicular fractures was far higher than expected. Based on these findings it seems reasonable to explore the possibly use of alter-native treatment options including surgery for certain clavicular fracture types.

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Authors

  • Jan Nowak

  • Margareta Holgersson

  • Sune Larsson

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