Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NFL study to find best management of middle third clavicle fractures

Small study size but interesting article on outcome from conservative and surgical repair of the middle third clavicle fractures take a look at the abstract

Evolving Management of Middle-Third Clavicle Fractures in the National Football League

  1. Robert J. Morgan, MD*,
  2. Larry S. Bankston Jr, MD,
  3. Michael P. Hoenig, MD§ and
  4. Patrick M. Connor, MD

+Author Affiliations

  1. Resurgens Orthopaedics, Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Baton Rouge Orthopaedic Clinic, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  3. §Orthopaedics Associates, Spartanburg, South Carolina
  4. OrthoCarolina, Charlotte, North Carolina
  1. *Robert J. Morgan, MD, 3211 Iris Drive, Covington, GA 30016 (e-mail:morganrj@resurgens.com).


Background: Clavicle fractures have historically been managed nonoperatively. Recent literature suggests a subset of clavicle fractures may be best treated with primary surgical treatment.

Purpose: To review the National Football League (NFL) experience in the management of middle-third clavicle fractures over a 5-year period.

Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: A retrospective review of clavicle fractures that occurred during a 5-season period was obtained from the NFL Injury Surveillance System. A detailed questionnaire was also sent to the medical staff of all 32 NFL teams.

Results: Nineteen players sustained a middle-third clavicle fracture over the 5-year period. Six fractures were nondisplaced or minimally displaced. All 6 healed at an average time of 7.3 weeks. Thirteen fractures were 100% displaced. Six of the 13 underwent acute surgical fixation that resulted in fracture healing without complication at an average of 8.8 weeks. The remaining 7 players with a completely displaced fracture were initially treated nonoperatively. Three of these 7 healed clinically without sequela at an average of 13.3 weeks after injury; however, 4 players sustained a refracture within 1 year of the initial injury.

Conclusion: Over the past 5 years, nearly 50% of NFL players with a completely displaced middle-third clavicle fracture were treated successfully with acute surgical fixation without sequela and healed at an average of 8.8 weeks. Three of these players were able to return to play during the same season. In addition, 4 of 7 players initially treated nonoperatively for a completely displaced middle-third clavicle fracture refractured their clavicle within a 1-year period from their initial injury. The 4 players missed an average of 1.5 seasons because of their clavicle injury and subsequent clinical course. Based on this review, it may be reasonable to consider acute surgical treatment of this injury in the NFL player to enable a successful clinical outcome in a predictable time frame.


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