This paper reports the results of treating 35 humeral shaft fractures with antegrade nailing in patients between the ages of 25 and 92 (mean 64.5): 14 patients were aged between 25 and 59, and 21 between 66 and 92. The nail was set in place proximally with a spiral blade and distally with 1 or 2 screws. In the first 14 cases, uncannulated humeral nailing (UHN) was carried out, and in the next 21 cannulated humeral nailing (CHN). The latter technique uses a guide wire which, in cases of an error in the length of the nail, is useful in that it allows another nail to be set in place. Main outcome parameters were fracture healing, shoulder discomfort, and radial nerve recovery. The DASH functional scoring system, modified according to Beaton et al. for subjective assessment was used, and range of motion was checked with the constant score. X-rays were used to assess fracture healing time and cases of malunion. Two patients developed non-union, one caused by a UHN which was too short, and the other by a nail blocked distally by a single screw. In 7 patients, consolidation was achieved, but with varus between 3 and 8 degrees (mean 5 degrees), without aesthetic or functional damage. In 33 out of 35 patients, shoulder functionality had mean DASH score results of 21.9, whereas shoulder range of motion reached a mean constant score (CS) of 26.5 (78.8%) with respect to the opposite shoulder. In 5 cases of stiffness, the UHN turned out to be insufficiently buried. Results improved with the CHN. Much better results were seen in the group of patients aged between 25 and 59 (mean age 43), but worse in older ones (66-92 years, mean age 78). Radial nerve palsy after surgery occurred in 2 cases, and the nerve was immediately examined. It did not appear to be trapped in the fracture in either case, and recovery was complete 6 months later. CHN appears to be a valid solution, both in younger patients, thanks to excellent results, and in older ones, who have fewer functional requirements.
MUSCULOSKELETAL SURGERY 09/2011; 96(2):67-73. DOI:10.1007/s12306-011-0166-z