Risk factors for hardware removal following operative treatment of middle- and distal-third clavicular fractures

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2021 Mar;30(3):e103-e113. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2020.06.034. Epub 2020 Jul 11.


Background: The incidence of hardware removal (HWR) after operative fixation of clavicular fractures varies widely. Risk factors related to HWR remain incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of and risk factors for HWR after plate fixation of middle- and distal-third clavicular fractures. We hypothesized that (1) the total HWR incidence would be <20%, (2) the HWR incidence of operatively treated distal- and middle-third clavicular fractures would not be statistically different, and (3) symptomatic implants would be the most common HWR indication.

Methods: We performed a multi-hospital retrospective study of skeletally mature patients who underwent plate fixation of middle- and distal-third clavicular fractures from November 2008 to November 2018. Data included patient demographic characteristics, mechanism of injury, operative records, hardware-related symptoms, subsequent HWR, and complications.

Results: A total of 103 patients (aged 16-75 years, 76.7% male patients) were included. Of the patients, 87 (84.5%) underwent plate fixation for midshaft clavicular fractures and 16 (15.5%) underwent plate fixation for distal-third clavicular fractures. HWR was performed in 13 patients (12.6%). A significantly higher percentage of HWR procedures were performed for distal clavicular fractures (50%) than for middle-third clavicular fractures (4.9%, P < .0001). An initial high-energy mechanism of injury was associated with HWR (P = .0025). The most common indication for HWR was symptomatic hardware (69.2%). The overall complication rate was 14.5%.

Conclusion: The overall incidence of clavicular HWR was 12.6%. A distal fracture location was associated with a significantly higher incidence of HWR. An initial high-energy mechanism of injury was a significant risk factor for HWR. The primary indication for HWR was symptomatic hardware.

Keywords: Clavicular fracture; complications; distal; hardware removal; middle; open reduction–internal fixation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Plates
  • Clavicle / surgery
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal* / adverse effects
  • Fractures, Bone* / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult