Effectiveness of Locked Nailing for Displaced Three-Part Proximal Humeral Fractures

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Published reports about locked nailing for displaced comminuted proximal humeral fractures are few and the results contradictory.


Locked nailing was used to treat 27 selective patients with displaced three-part proximal humeral fractures. The average age of patients was 54.3 years. The operative indications were persistent severe displacement, intact or minimally displaced lesser tuberosity, tolerance of anesthesia, and adherence to rehabilitation programs. Three patients had associated shoulder dislocation and two had fractures with diaphyseal extension. By transdeltoid approach, the fractures were reduced and then fixed by antegrade nailing with either upward or downward locking screws. The patients were prospectively followed up for an average of 24 months.


All fractures achieved eventual union. Three patients with proximal screw loosening required screw removal. On the basis of Neer criteria, excellent or satisfactory results were obtained in 21 patients whose scores averaged 87.5 points. Six patients had unsatisfactory outcomes, with an average of 75.8 points. Two patients with the complication of avascular necrosis still had a satisfactory outcome. Varus deformity of shoulder joints, deformity of the greater tuberosity, collapse of the humeral head, and old age could adversely affect shoulder elevation. However, the anatomic abnormalities might have limited effects on the pain scale, muscle power, and shoulder stability.


Locked nailing can be an effective treatment for selected severely displaced three-part proximal humeral fractures. It is particularly useful for fractures with diaphyseal involvement. Familiarity with the fracture deformity and experience with the surgical techniques are critical for successful treatment results.

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