Background: In up to 31% of cases, nonsurgical treatment of midshaft clavicular fractures leads to unsatisfactory results such as nonunion, brachial plexus irritation, shortening and limited function of the shoulder. To date, various implants have been developed for open reduction including intramedullary wires, screws, and plates. This study discusses elastic stable intramedullary nailing of midshaft clavicular fractures.
Methods: Between 2000 and 2005, 31 midshaft clavicular fractures were treated by intramedullary nailing with a titanium elastic nail (TEN). Subjective and clinical outcome were evaluated after an average follow-up of 26 (6-46) months. Patients were divided into three groups: patients with isolated clavicular fractures (group 1, n = 9); patients with additional injuries (group 2, n = 15), and patients with multiple injuries (group 3, n = 7).
Results: Nonunion was not observed. No patient sustained a refracture after TEN removal. Medial migration of the TEN in seven patients and iatrogenic perforation of the lateral cortex in one patient required secondary shortening on five occasions. Nail breakage after fracture healing was observed twice. Subjective outcome did not differ significantly between the three groups. Constant and Murley Score and the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand Questionnaire Score showed no significant difference in the clinical outcome of the three groups.
Conclusion: Intramedullary fixation of midshaft clavicular fractures with a TEN is a safe minimally invasive surgical technique achieving primary stability for practice. It can be seen as an alternative to plate or screw fixation or nonsurgical treatment, as it produces excellent cosmetic and functional results regardless whether patients suffered from isolated clavicular fractures, additional injuries, or multiple traumas.