Clavicle Fractures:

A Review of the Literature and Update on Treatment

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Paul Toogood, MD; Patrick Horst, MD; Sanjum Samagh, MD; and Brian T. Feeley, MD

Table of Contents

Physician and Sportsmedicine:

Volume 39 No. 3


Clinical Features

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DOI: 10.3810/psm.2011.09.1930
Abstract: Clavicle fractures are common, and it is important for primary care physicians to be familiar with basic principles of evaluation and management in order to initiate treatment as well as discuss these injuries with patients and consulting orthopedic surgeons. These injuries are almost always the result of trauma (often a direct blow to the shoulder) and occur most often in the young male population. Evaluation begins with a thorough history and physical examination and typically progresses to plain radiographs identifying the fracture site and pattern. These fractures have been classified by Allman into groups I (mid-shaft), II (lateral), and III (medial); this classification, along with fracture characteristics (eg, displacement and comminution) is used to assist with determining the strategy for management. Although nondisplaced fractures continue to be treated conservatively with a simple sling until the fracture is healed according to radiographs and clinical assessment, various forms of open reduction and internal fixation are now commonly used to treat fractures with little or no cortical contact between fragments. Open reduction and internal fixation has shown superior results compared with conservative management in recent trials of management of displaced fractures. Nonunion and malunion are rare, but may be symptomatic in a subset of patients. These complications may be addressed with open reduction and internal fixation, bone grafting, and osteotomy as needed.

Keywords: clavicle, fracture, review, management