Advances in the Management of Humeral Nonunion Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Approximately 10% of all long-bone fractures occur in the humerus. Although primary treatment usually is successful, humeral nonunion can lead to marked morbidity and functional limitation. Complications include joint contractures of the shoulder and elbow, especially with periarticular pseudarthrosis. Marked osteopenia or bone loss, or both, often occur after fracture and after failure to achieve union. Retained implants often break, impeding fixation and requiring removal. Soft-tissue deficits and incisions from the original injury or prior surgeries also may complicate reconstruction, as can intra-articular fractures and associated nerve palsies. Successful surgical management of humeral nonunion requires stable internal fixation that allows early joint motion and uses autogenous bone graft to promote healing. Contracture release and early joint motion are necessary to optimize function. Shoulder hemiarthroplasty and semiconstrained total elbow arthroplasty are viable options for irreversible joint damage. Advances in preoperative evaluation and surgical reconstruction have improved functional outcomes.

publication date

  • January 2003