Research Article| Volume 41, ISSUE 12, P1244-1248, December 2010

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Management of nonunions of the proximal humeral diaphysis


      It has been reported that the majority of nonunions of the humeral shaft evaluated are within the proximal one-third of the diaphysis. We are not aware of any reported series of humeral nonunions dealing specifically with the proximal diaphysis. We therefore sought to identify patients with a humeral shaft nonunion from an orthopaedic trauma service database, determine the frequency of those within the proximal one-third and review our treatment strategy and resulting clinical outcomes for these difficult fractures. Clinical and radiographical follow-up was available for 19 patients with a mean age of 70 years (range 29–94 years). This represented 46% of all humeral shaft nonunions treated during the study period. Dual plating was used in 11 cases to get adequate fixation in the proximal segment. Post-operative alignment was within 5° of anatomic in all cases. All nonunions healed at an average of 15.2 weeks (range 8–36 weeks). The mean length of follow-up was 12.5 months (range 6–122 months). All patients reported significant improvement in pain. The mean range of motion following fracture union was forward flexion 137°, external rotation 41° and internal rotation 30°. There were two minor complications and neither required a secondary surgery. The surgical technique we have used emphasising a thorough debridement of the nonunion site, correction of the deformity, fracture site compression with a rigid construct and bone grafting provides excellent rates of union and clinical outcomes.


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