No objective criteria exist to help surgeons choose between IM nailing and plate fixation for 4-part fractures of the proximal humerus. The goal of this study was to identify radiological criteria that would make one technique a better choice than the other.
Material and methods
This was a comparative, multicentre, retrospective study of 54 cases of antegrade nailing and 53 cases of plating performed between 1st January 2009 and 31 December 2011 for 4-part fractures of the proximal humerus. All patients had a minimum radiological and clinical follow-up of 18 months. The functional outcomes were evaluated using the weighted Constant score; a poor result was defined as a weighted Constant score<70%. The following radiological criteria were evaluated during the preoperative assessment and at the last follow-up: initial displacement and reduction of humeral head and tuberosities; morphology of the medial column (i.e. calcar comminution, posteromedial hinge, size of metaphyseal head extension); occurrence of avascular necrosis (AVN).
After an average follow-up of 42 months, the weighted Constant scores and rate of poor outcomes were 77% and 48% in the nail group and 81% and 38% in the plate group, respectively (ns). The humeral head was reduced into an anatomical position, valgus or varus in 57%, 30% and 13% of cases in the nail group, and 58%, 29% and 13% in the plate group, respectively. The tuberosities healed in an anatomical position in 72% of nail cases and 70% of plate cases (ns). Only the presence of a medial hinge preoperatively had an effect on the functional outcomes in the nail and plate groups: the weighted Constant scores (P=0.05) and rate of poor outcomes (P=0.02) were 82% and 52% in the nail group and 97% and 9% in the plate group, respectively. The complication rates were comparable: the rates of AVN and articular screw penetration were 17% and 11% in the nail group, and 15% and 11% in the plate group, respectively. The surgical revision rate was 18.5% in the nail group and 30% in the plate group.
If the medial hinge is preserved, we recommend locking plate fixation. In other cases, either technique can be used as long as the general rules of internal fixation are applied: reduction of the tuberosities, varus correction and stabilization of the calcar area.
Level of evidence
IV, retrospective study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Shoulder, Proximal humerus fracture, 4-part fracture, Antegrade nailing, Locking plate