The last time OrthoBuzz reported on a JBJS randomized trial looking at treatment of midshaft clavicle fractures, the authors concluded that “neither treatment option [nonoperative or surgical] is clearly superior for all patients” and that “the clavicular fracture is preeminently suitable for shared treatment decision-making.”
Now, a multicenter randomized trial by Ahrens et al. published in the August 16, 2017 JBJS adds more data for that shared decision-making discussion. In this trial, 300 patients with a displaced midshaft clavicle fracture were randomized to receive either open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with a plate or nonoperative management. Patients were recruited from a range of UK hospitals, and a single implant and standardized technique were used in the operative group. The rehabilitation protocol was the same for both groups.
The union rate in both groups at 3 months was low, approximately 70%. But at 9 months after the injury, the nonunion rate was <1% in the surgically treated patients, compared to 11% in the nonsurgically treated patients. The patient-reported scores (DASH and Constant-Murley) were significantly better in the operative group at 6 weeks and 3 months, but were equivalent to those in the nonoperative group at 9 months.
“Overall,” the authors conclude, “we think that surgical treatment for a displaced midshaft clavicle fracture should be offered to patients, and [these findings] can provide clear, robust data to help patients make their choices.”