Minimally Invasive Double-Button Fixation of Displaced Lateral Clavicular Fractures in Athletes

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Abstract

Background:

Early union and a rapid return to prior function are the priorities for young athletes with lateral clavicular fractures. Furthermore, it is essential to avoid nonunion in this subgroup of patients, as this is frequently associated with persistent pain, restriction of movement, and loss of strength and endurance of the shoulder.

Purpose:

To analyze the time to return to sport, functional outcomes, and complications in a group of athletes with displaced lateral clavicular fractures treated using closed reduction and minimally invasive double-button fixation.

Study Design:

Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods:

A total of 21 athletes with displaced lateral clavicular fractures were treated with closed reduction and minimally invasive double-button fixation between March 2008 and October 2013. Patients completed a questionnaire focused on the time to return to sport and treatment course. Functional outcomes were assessed with the Constant score and the short version of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (QuickDASH) questionnaire. Pain was evaluated with the visual analog scale (VAS). Radiographs were reviewed to identify radiographic union, malunion, and nonunion.

Results:

Of the 21 study patients, 20 returned to sport after treatment; 100% returned to the same level. The mean time to return to play was 78 days (range, 41-120 days). Four patients (20%) returned to sport less than 6 weeks after surgery, 14 (70%) returned between 6 and 12 weeks after surgery, and 2 (10%) returned after 12 weeks. The mean Constant score was 89.1 ± 4.2 (range, 79-100), the mean QuickDASH score was 0.4 ± 2.6 (range, 0-7.1), and the mean VAS pain score was 0.4 ± 1.0 (range, 0-3) at final follow-up (mean, 41 months). The only complication was asymptomatic nonunion. Hardware removal was not necessary in any patient.

Conclusion:

Closed reduction and minimally invasive double-button fixation of displaced lateral clavicular fractures in athletes was successful in terms of returning to the previous level of athletic activity regardless of the type of sport, with excellent clinical results and a low rate of complications.

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