Lack of fifth anchoring point and violation of the insertion of the rotator cuff during antegrade humeral nailing: pitfalls in straight antegrade humeral nailing

Bone Joint J. 2014 Feb;96-B(2):249-53. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.96B2.31293.


Antegrade nailing of proximal humeral fractures using a straight nail can damage the bony insertion of the supraspinatus tendon and may lead to varus failure of the construct. In order to establish the ideal anatomical landmarks for insertion of the nail and their clinical relevance we analysed CT scans of bilateral proximal humeri in 200 patients (mean age 45.1 years (sd 19.6; 18 to 97) without humeral fractures. The entry point of the nail was defined by the point of intersection of the anteroposterior and lateral vertical axes with the cortex of the humeral head. The critical point was defined as the intersection of the sagittal axis with the medial limit of the insertion of the supraspinatus tendon on the greater tuberosity. The region of interest, i.e. the biggest entry hole that would not encroach on the insertion of the supraspinatus tendon, was calculated setting a 3 mm minimal distance from the critical point. This identified that 38.5% of the humeral heads were categorised as 'critical types', due to morphology in which the predicted offset of the entry point would encroach on the insertion of the supraspinatus tendon that may damage the tendon and reduce the stability of fixation. We therefore emphasise the need for 'fastidious' pre-operative planning to minimise this risk.

Keywords: Anchoring point; Entry point; Footprint; Nailing; Proximal humeral fracture; Rotator cuff.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Nails*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / methods*
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Humeral Fractures / surgery*
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult