Clavicular Fractures

The clavicle of collar bone is one of the most frequently fractured bones. It usually heals in around three weeks, allowing people back to most activities by 6-8 weeks. Shoulder surgeons see patients which clavicle fractures for two reasons:
  1. The fracture fails to heal and develops a non-union which is painful.
  2. The fracture is severe and the patient is concerned that even if it does heal, the final function will be compromised.

Non-union

This does occur. It is quite rare, and it is treated by surgery. The bone ends are freshened and bone graft (from the hip, or artificial) is added and the bones fixed with a plate and screws. This has a high success and satisfaction rate.

Complex fracture

There is now a significant body of research showing that certain clavicle fractures patterns heal with compromise of final shoulder function. These are the comminuted fractures, ie, more that just a simple break. Those with marked shortening and the so-called z-shape fracture, where there is a third piece of clavicle lodged vertically between the two ends. In these fractures, serious consideration should be given to immediate internal fixation.