Monday, 23 April 2007

Fractured Clavicle

Mohamed came in last Saturday holding onto his right elbow with a deformed 'collar-bone' (see photo) after a fall from his motorbike. He was in severe pain and requested for immediate 'painkiller' injection. I examined him and found that he had a fracture of the midshaft of his clavicle (commonest site) with the proximal part displaced upward. We splinted the left upper limb with a triangular bandage. His peripheral pulses were normal and his ribs and lungs were not injured. I referred him to my Orthopaedic colleague to reassess the need for surgery due to the displacement and overlap. Usually, non-displaced fractures of the midshaft are treated non-surgically with a triangular or figure of eight bandage (see how to apply) and NSAIDS.

In a retrospective study, 132 patients with united fractures of the middle third of the clavicle and a follow-up of up to 30 months after conservative management were reviewed. Of the patients, 34 (25.8%) were dissatisfied with the result of their management possibly due to shortening of the clavicle.J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2006; 15(2):191-4

A small study in Belgium suggests that semi-professional athletes may benefit from surgical plate fixation of the fractured clavicle with a possible early return to sports (45 days)at the expense of a significant risk for complications (e.g. infection, non-union, refracture) which would not be considered acceptable in patients with lower functional demands. Acta Orthop Belg. 2005; 71(1):17-21

The patient actually had surgery done and was having full function of his right shoulder within 2 weeks. He was advised to return to his surgeon for removal of the plate after 1 year.

No comments: