Risk of avascular necrosis

Even minimally displaced anatomic neck fractures have a significant risk of avascular necrosis (AVN) of the humeral head. This risk is increased with extensive surgical exposure for open reduction and plate fixation.
With the blood supply already at risk, closed reduction and minimal internal fixation through very limited approaches is advisable.


Proper reduction (CCD0135°) enlarge

Proper reduction

Proper reduction of the major proximal humerus fragments is essential. In particular, the impacted humeral head must be elevated sufficiently, so that the tuberosities can be placed underneath it.


Tension band sutures in addition to plate and screws enlarge

Tension band sutures in addition to plate and screws

Sutures placed through the insertions of each rotator cuff tendon increase stability, and should be used as well as the plate and screws, particularly for more comminuted and/or osteoporotic fractures. With osteoporotic bone, the tendon insertion is often stronger than the bone itself, so that sutures placed through the insertional fibers of the tendon may hold better than screws or sutures placed through bone.
These additional sutures are typically the last step of fixation.


Plating options enlarge

Angular stable versus standard plates

This section describes proximal humeral fracture fixation with an angular stable plate (A). Sometimes, these implants are not available. Standard plates provide an alternative option, for example the modified cloverleaf plate (B). Presently, the specific indications, advantages, and disadvantages of angular stable and standard plates are being clarified. There is some evidence that angular stable plate provide better outcomes. In addition to type and technique of fixation, the quality of reduction, the soft-tissue handling, and the characteristics of the injury and patient significantly influence the results. There is no evidence that the use of angular stable plates will overcome these other factors.