Four-part fracture dislocations of the proximal humerus in young adults: Results of fixation

Orthopaedic Department, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Egypt. Electronic address: .
Injury (Impact Factor: 2.46). 09/2012; 44(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.09.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION: Four-part fracture dislocations of the proximal humerus occurring in young age are extremely difficult fractures with a high incidence of complications. The risk of avascular necrosis is high; hence, prosthetic replacement is the treatment of choice in older patients with these complex fractures; on the other hand, the longevity of the prosthesis is the main concern in young age. Thus, every effort should be made to fix these fractures in the young. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the results of fixation in a series of young patients with four-part fracture dislocations; to support the trend to fix these fractures; and reserve prosthetic replacement to older patients. METHODS: In a prospective study, 39 patients younger than 40 years of age with four-part fracture dislocations were treated with open reduction and fixation either with K-wires or with a proximal humerus plate. Ethibond sutures were used in all patients to supplement fixation of tuberosities. In 18 patients, the dislocation was anterior and in 21 patients it was posterior. Twelve patients had an anatomic neck fracture and 27 had a surgical neck fracture. Surgery was performed within 1 week after the injury. Physiotherapy was initiated according to the general condition of the patient and the stability of fixation; the average time was 5 days after surgery. RESULTS: Patients were followed up for an average of 26 months. Union was achieved in 36 patients and three patients had nonunion, all in anatomic neck fractures. Avascular necrosis developed in eight patients, seven of which were fractures of the anatomic neck and one was in the surgical neck. The average Constant score was 77; 26 patients were pain free, nine had mild pain and four had moderate pain. The mean active anterior elevation was 145°. Patients were divided into two groups based on the anatomic configuration of the fracture; in 12 patients (group 1), the head was fractured at the anatomical neck and in 27 patients (group 2), the head was fractured at the surgical neck. In group 2, the active anterior elevation was significantly better and the Constant score was higher. CONCLUSIONS: Anatomical reduction and rigid fixation with meticulous surgical technique can lead to satisfactory results. The results in surgical neck fractures are superior to anatomic neck fractures with significantly less complications.

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