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Current Issue - November 2023, Volume 17, Issue No. 3

Official Journal of Malaysian Orthopaedic Association and ASEAN Orthopaedic Association

Do We Ever Need to Fix Clavicle Fractures in Adolescents?


Introduction: Clavicle fractures in adults are increasingly being treated by surgical fixation following reports of symptomatic non-union, malunion and poor functional outcome with conservative treatment. This has led to a similar trend in the management of clavicle fractures in adolescents. This study aims to evaluate the outcome and complications of non-operatively treated clavicle fractures in adolescents.

Materials and methods: This is a retrospective, single institution study on adolescents aged 13-17 years who sustained a closed, isolated clavicle fracture, between 1997-2015. Clinical records were reviewed for demographic information, injury mode, time to radiographic fracture union, time to re-attainment of full shoulder range of motion (ROM), and time to return to full activities and sports. Complications and fracture-related issues were recorded. Radiographs were analysed for fracture location, displacement and shortening.

Results: A total of 115 patients (98 males, 17 females; mean age:13.9 ± 0.89 years) were included for study. 101 (88%) sustained a middle-third fracture while the remainder sustained a lateral-third fracture. A total of 96 (95%) of the middle-third fractures were displaced, and 12 (86%) of the lateral-third fractures were displaced. All displaced fractures in this study had shortening. Sports-related injuries and falls accounted for 68 (59%) and 34 (30%) of the cases respectively. Overall, the mean time to radiographic fracture union was 7.8 ± 4.35 weeks; there were no cases of non-union. Full shoulder ROM was re-attained in 6.6 ± 3.61 weeks, and full activities and sports was resumed in 11.4 ± 4.69 weeks. There were 5 cases of re-fracture and a single case of intermittent fracture site pain.

Conclusion: Clavicle fractures in adolescents can and should be treated non-operatively in the first instance with the expectation of good outcomes in terms of time for fracture union, reattainment of shoulder full range of motion, and return to activities. Surgical stabilisation should be reserved for cases for which there is an absolute indication.

Abstract   |   Reference

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The Malaysian Orthopaedic Journal is a peer-reviewed journal that is published three times a year in both print and electronic online version. The purpose of this journal is to publish original research studies, evaluation of current practices and case reports in various subspecialties of orthopaedics and traumatology, as well as associated fields like basic science, biomedical engineering, rehabilitation medicine and nursing.

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