Surgical Technique: Anterolateral Approach to the Humerus

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Although most humeral shaft fractures can be treated nonoperatively, many patients do benefit significantly from surgical treatment. The anterolateral approach to the humerus provides excellent exposure to the humeral shaft, especially to more proximal aspects. In addition, the approach can be extended both proximally and distally, providing the surgeon a dynamic exposure to the humerus for the treatment of fractures and other pathologies.


This video highlights a clinical case where a mid-shaft humerus fracture was diagnosed and treated with open reduction internal fixation using an 8-hole 4.5-mm limited contact dynamic compression plate through an anterolateral approach.


We present indications, anatomic considerations, and surgical techniques used to surgically treat a transverse, mid-shaft humerus fracture through an anterolateral approach. In addition, we demonstrate the use of a push–pull screw to aid in achieving appropriate compression across a fracture site. Using this technique, an anatomic reduction and satisfactory clinical outcome were achieved.


The anterolateral approach to the humerus offers excellent exposure to some humeral shaft fractures, particularly those that lie more proximally. However, its use must be weighed carefully against several other approach options, and the surgeon must account for the specific fracture pattern, as well as their own comfort and familiarity with the approach.

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