The triceps-sparing posterior approach to plating humeral shaft fractures results in a high rate of union and low incidence of complications

Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

, Volume 136, Issue 12, pp 1683–1689

The triceps-sparing posterior approach to plating humeral shaft fractures results in a high rate of union and low incidence of complications

  • Elizabeth B. Gausden, Alexander B. Christ, Stephen J. Warner, Ashley Levack, Andrew Nellestein, Dean G. Lorich

 

Introduction

The optimal treatment of humeral shaft fractures continues to be debated. In the current investigation, we sought to determine the clinical and radiographic outcomes following the plate fixation of humeral shaft fractures utilizing the triceps-sparing posterior approach.

Materials and methods

A retrospective review identified a consecutive series of 66 humeral shaft fractures (OTA 12-A, 12-B, or 12-C) treated with dual plate fixation via a posterior, triceps-sparing approach between 2005 and 2014 by a single surgeon. Demographics, operative reports, clinical follow-up, and preoperative radiographs were reviewed. Postoperative radiographs were assessed for angular deformity and time to union. Range of motion and strength testing were also reviewed.

Results

A total of 66 humeral shaft fractures were reviewed with a mean clinical follow-up of 8.0 months. The mean time to union was 15.6 ± 11.1 weeks, and there was one case of delayed union. Seventeen of 66 (25.8 %) patients presented with a primary radial nerve palsy following injury, and 14 of the 17 (82 %) of the preoperative radial nerve palsies fully resolved at an average of 31 weeks following injury. Two additional patients developed radial nerve palsies postoperatively (3.0 %).

Conclusion

This is a large consecutive series of humeral shaft fractures treated with plating through a posterior approach by a single surgeon. The triceps-sparing posterior approach to the humerus results in high union rates and a low incidence of secondary radial nerve palsy.

Level of evidence

Level IV, Case Series.

Keywords

Humeral shaft fracturePosterior approach to humeral shaftORIFOsteosynthesisPlating of humeral shaft fracturesRadial nerve palsy

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