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Late complications following clavicular fractures and their operative management

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0020-1383(02)00169-9


Abstract We describe our experience of the operative treatment of sequelae from high-energy injuries of the clavicle. Surgery was performed on 17 patients who often had more than one indication. This included the following: painful non-union (nine patients), neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), hypertrophic non-union three patients, hypertrophic malunion five patients, bony spike two patients), vascular TOS (two patients) and brachial plexus neuroma (one patient). At clinical review, functional outcome was assessed by using a Constant score, a visual analogue pain score, return to work status and by patient subjective satisfaction rating. We performed 11 decompressions with callus excision, three simple neurolysis, eight fixations for non-union, one osteotomy and three excisions of bone spikes. Two patients required a further decompression procedure; one patient developed deep sepsis requiring sequestrectomy and two patients required removal of metalwork. At mean follow-up of 49 months the average Constant score was 64 (range 27–93). The mean pain score was 4. Ten patients returned to work at an average of 8 months. Five patients were completely asymptomatic, eight reported occasional paraesthesiae and three had significant cold intolerance. Patient satisfaction scores were 14% very satisfied, 50% satisfied, 14% unsatisfied and 22% very unsatisfied. High-energy clavicle injuries can cause significant morbidity due to non-union and TOS. Refractory symptoms can be improved by operative intervention with satisfactory functional outcome. However, the majority of patients experience some degree of residual symptoms.

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