Surgery and Sling Deliver Equal Outcomes for Proximal Humerus Fractures

A multisite, randomized trial of 250 patients (mean age of 66) with a displaced fracture of the surgical neck of the humerus found that mean Oxford Shoulder Score (OSS) outcomes were essentially the same among those who had surgery (plate fixation or humeral head replacement) and those who were treated with a sling and physical therapy. The OSS measures were made at 6, 12, and 24 months after randomization.

Proximal humerus fracture account for an estimated 5% to 6% of adult fractures, with most of them occurring in people older than 65. The authors of this study concluded that, amid what appears to be an uptick in surgical management of such fractures, “these results do not support the trend of increased surgery for patients with displaced fractures of the proximal humerus.”

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