The results of functional (Sarmiento) bracing of humeral shaft fractures

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. Mar-Apr 2002;11(2):143-50. doi: 10.1067/mse.2002.121634.

Abstract

At the Department of Orthopaedics of the Kantonsspital Fribourg, 67 humeral shaft fractures were treated by Sarmiento bracing in a 15-year period. There were 54 isolated fractures and 13 fractures sustained as a component of polytrauma. Fifty-eight cases (87%) had healed clinically at a mean of 10 weeks; 9 cases failed to heal, so further treatment was carried out operatively. Of the conservatively managed fractures, 95% (55 cases) healed with an excellent or good result. Three patients noted a slight limitation of active range of motion, but all 58 patients returned to full duty at their jobs. Among 9 patients with delayed or nonunion leading to operative intervention, there were 6 cases with transverse fractures. Major reasons for failed conservative management were an incorrect indication, a significant axial deformity, or a hyperextended position of the fracture fragments. In our experience, active repositioning of humeral shaft fractures is not effective in avoiding a delay in fracture healing. The decision to use functional bracing in polytrauma patients should depend on the time of expected bedridden immobilization, on the presence of additional fractures of the ipsilateral upper extremity, and on the patient's need for crutches. The conservative treatment of humeral shaft fractures with the Sarmiento brace remains the treatment of choice, in spite of newer intramedullary operations that are allegedly minimally invasive and technically less complicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Braces*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation
  • Fracture Healing
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / therapy*
  • Male
  • Multiple Trauma
  • Time Factors