Complications associated with plate fixation of acute midshaft clavicle fractures versus non-unions

  • Seif Sawalha
  • Inigo Guisasola
Original Article • SHOULDER - FRACTURES


An important consideration when counselling patients with midshaft clavicle fractures is whether operative treatment of non-union, if it develops after non-operative treatment, is associated with higher complication rate than acute fracture fixation. The aim of this study is to compare complications and re-operations after open reduction and plate fixation for acute midshaft clavicle fractures versus non-unions. The study was retrospective. There were 90 patients in the acute fixation group and 20 patients in the non-union group. The mean follow-up was 8 and 15 months, respectively, Logistic regression analysis was used to assess whether ‘non-union surgery’ was a predictor of complications and re-operations. Of 90 patients, 23 had complications in acute fixation group. Of 20, 7 developed 8 complications in the non-union group (p = 0.4). Of 90, 12 required re-operations in the acute fixation group compared to 5/20 requiring 7 re-operations in the non-union group (p = 0.19). When any complication or re-operation was considered, ‘non-union surgery’ was not significant predictor for complications (p = 0.78) or re-operations (p = 0.99). The complication and re-operation rates were not higher after non-union surgery compared to acute fracture fixation and were mostly related to persistent delayed or non-union, rather than operative complications. When counselling patients about treatment of midshaft clavicle fractures, a ‘higher complication rate after surgery for non-union, should it happen’ should not be an argument against non-operative treatment.


Clavicle Fracture Non-union Complications 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Seif Sawalha and Inigo Guisasola declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University HospitalLiverpoolEngland, UK

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