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Management of Malunion of the Proximal Humerus: Current Concepts

Daphne Pinkas J Am Acad Orthop Surg August 2014 vol. 22 no. 8

Proximal humerus fractures remain one of the most common orthopaedic injuries, particularly in the elderly. Displaced fractures often require surgery, and management can be challenging because of comminution and poor bone quality. Despite advances in surgical technique and implant design, reoperation for malunion or nonunion of the tuberosity (arthroplasty) or screw penetration (open reduction and internal fixation) remains problematic. Recent studies have demonstrated acceptable results following nonsurgical management of displaced proximal humerus fractures in elderly, low-demand patients. In younger, more active patients, reduced function and pain that accompany select proximal humeral malunions are generally poorly tolerated. Surgical options for symptomatic, malunited tuberosities include osteotomy, tuberoplasty with rotator cuff repair and subacromial decompression, or decompression alone. Surgical neck malunion can be managed with corrective osteotomy and preservation of the native joint. Arthroplasty is reserved for complex malunions with joint incongruity. Surgical management of symptomatic proximal humeral malunion remains challenging, but good outcomes can be achieved with proper patient selection.

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