Clavicular osteotomy to assess subclavian vein injury during internal fixation of midshaft clavicle fractures

Shoulder Elbow. 2022 Dec;14(6):642-647. doi: 10.1177/17585732211047206. Epub 2021 Oct 18.


Midshaft clavicle fractures are commonly fixed with locking plates. The subclavian vein risks injury during this procedure and the consequences can be fatal. The purpose of this present study is to describe a clavicular osteotomy technique in order to equip orthopaedic surgeons with a means of rapidly accessing a subclavian vein injury. The osteotomy should only be performed following an urgent intraoperative vascular surgery assessment. There must be shared consensus from both orthopaedic and vascular surgery that direct repair of the subclavian vein is necessary, and further exposure is required. The results of the technique performed on thirteen embalmed cadaveric specimens are also included. The osteotomy was able to expose 3.16 cm (SD = 0.60) of the subclavian vein and both the fracture and osteotomy site of all clavicles (100%) were able to be reduced and fixed using a single pre-contoured fifteen-hole lateral plate intended for use on the contralateral shoulder. This surgical technique study confirms that in the rare circumstance that the osteotomy is utilized, adequate exposure of the subclavian vein is achieved.

Keywords: Clavicle fracture; subclavian vein; trauma; upper limb; venous injury.