Background: The purpose of this study was to analyze the functional results of corrective osteotomy of a malunited clavicular fracture in patients with chronic pain, weakness, neurologic symptoms, and dissatisfaction with the appearance of the shoulder.
Methods: We identified fifteen patients (nine men and six women with a mean age of thirty-seven years) who had a malunion following nonoperative treatment of a displaced midshaft fracture of the clavicle. The mean time from the injury to presentation was three years (range, one to fifteen years). Outcome scores revealed major residual deficits. The mean amount of clavicular shortening was 2.9 cm (range, 1.6 to 4.0 cm). All patients underwent corrective osteotomy of the malunion through the original fracture line and internal fixation.
Results: At the time of follow-up, at a mean of twenty months (range, twelve to forty-two months) postoperatively, the osteotomy site had united in fourteen of the fifteen patients. All fourteen patients expressed satisfaction with the result. The mean DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) score for all fifteen patients improved from 32 points preoperatively to 12 points at the time of follow-up (p = 0.001). The mean shortening of the clavicle improved from 2.9 to 0.4 cm (p = 0.01). There was one nonunion, and two patients had elective removal of the plate.
Conclusions: Malunion following clavicular fracture may be associated with orthopaedic, neurologic, and cosmetic complications. In selected cases, corrective osteotomy results in a high degree of patient satisfaction and improves patient-based upper-extremity scores.