Proximal humeral fracture osteosynthesis in Belgium: a retrospective population-based epidemiologic study

Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2022 Dec;48(6):4509-4514. doi: 10.1007/s00068-020-01466-2. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


Purpose: Proximal humeral fractures (PHF) comprise approximately five percent of all fractures and this percentage will continue to increase due to the aging population with accompanying osteoporosis. Most PHF can be treated conservatively; however, in displaced fractures, surgical treatment is recommended. Retrospective analyses of large groups or even populations are important as they can contribute to the needs of the community. The aim of this study was to assess the epidemiology and management of PHF fixation in Belgium based on the most recently available data from the last 5 years.

Methods: The governmental organization National Institute of Health and Disability Insurance provided a population-based database with all PHF treated surgically or nonoperatively. This database was retrospectively assessed. The data included age, sex, region of residence, year and treatment strategy for every patient. Healthcare expenses were also provided.

Results: A total of 62,290 PHF were identified in Belgium between 2014 and 2018. The incidence was 111 per 100,000 persons/year. The highest incidence was observed in females and people older than 80 years. The average proportion of osteosynthesis was calculated at 21%. The Belgian government spent on average more than two million euros each year on PHF treatment.

Conclusion: The overall incidence of PHF increased by 12% over the last 5 years. The majority were treated nonoperatively in Belgium.

Keywords: Belgium; Epidemiology; Fracture; Healthcare; Proximal humerus.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shoulder Fractures* / epidemiology
  • Shoulder Fractures* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome