[Clavicle fracture complicated by pneumothorax. Case report and literature review]

G Chir. 2007 Aug-Sep;28(8-9):330-3.
[Article in Italian]


Introduction: the clavicle is one of the most commonly fractured bones, accounting for up to 4-10% of all adult's fractures. These fractures are comparatively easy to manage and typically heal with routine immobilisation.

Case report: a 28 year old man had direct driving trauma to the left shoulder and reported a displaced fracture of the third lateral of left clavicle and an apical pneumothorax. The pneumothorax was treated by the insertion of a chest drain under local anaesthesia. The chest drain was removed 12 days after the injury and the patient was transferred in Traumatology for specific therapy.

Result: 6 months after the accident, the clavicular fracture had united and the chest radiograph and CT were normal.

Discussion: most clavicular fractures result from a fall or a trauma on ipsilateral shoulder. However, the incidence of complications associated with isolated clavicle fracture, including vascular, brachial plexus, and penumothorax, are low but potentially serious.

Conclusion: careful history and physical examination with particular attention to the neurovascular and chest examination are vital. Close inspection of the radiographs for such potential complication are mandatory in all clavicular fractures and cannot be overstated. From the analysis of international literature, we can affirm that thoracostomy and immobilization are effective to heal pneumothorax and clavicle fracture.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clavicle / injuries*
  • Fractures, Bone / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumothorax / etiology*
  • Radiography