Minimally Invasive Surgical Technique Improves Patient Outcomes

The clavicle is the most commonly broken bone in the human body and occurs in all age groups. For decades, the treatment of these fractures has been conservative (without surgery). However, recent outcome studies have shown that displaced clavicle fractures can result in dissatisfied patients and lower functional scores due to incorrect healing.

Over the last several years, the surgeons at Lincoln Orthopaedic Center (LOC) have adopted a new set of surgical guidelines regarding a new technique for “fixing” displaced clavicle fractures using a minimally invasive method and a flexible titanium rod. LOC’s results have concurred with the surgical outcomes from Boston, Germany, and North Carolina which determined higher patient satisfaction with their function after healing, compared to patients treated without surgery.

The new surgical method involves drilling a small hole in the broken clavicle and then slipping a small, but strong titanium rod inside the hollow bone to line up the broken bone fragments. The incision is minimal which results in less pain and less muscle damage. After the broken bone heals, the rod can be easily removed if it is bothersome to the patient.

LOC patients returned to activities, including sports, more quickly. Their pain and shoulder motion measurements were both significantly better in most cases, only three days after their surgery.

When is surgery a good idea?

The active patient with a displaced clavicle fracture less than three weeks out with two large pieces is an ideal candidate for surgical repair.

When is surgery a bad idea?

When the fracture is well aligned or the patient is not healthy enough for surgery.

In summary, these new surgical criteria have been proven to increase shoulder function and should be considered when evaluating a displaced midshaft clavicle fracture.

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