Background: The functional results associated with nonoperative treatment of severely impacted valgus fractures of the proximal part of the humerus are poor, and these injuries are difficult to treat with minimally invasive percutaneous fixation techniques. The aim of this study was to review the functional and radiographic results and complications of a new operative technique in a series of twenty-five patients.
Methods: Over a two-year period, we treated twenty-nine patients with a severely impacted valgus fracture of the proximal part of the humerus. Three patients were lost to follow-up and one died, leaving twenty-five patients who were available for the study. In all of the fractures, the head-shaft angle had been tilted into =160° of valgus and the greater tuberosity was displaced by >1 cm. All patients were treated with open reduction of the fracture, and the space created behind the humeral head was filled with Norian Skeletal Repair System (SRS) bone substitute. The fractures were stabilized with either screws or buttress plate fixation. Associated rotator cuff tears were repaired. All patients underwent functional outcome assessment with use of the Constant, DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand), and SF-36 (Short Form-36) scores at one year, and twelve patients were followed for two years.
Results: All fractures united within the first year, all reductions were maintained, and no patient had signs of osteonecrosis of the humeral head on the latest follow-up radiographs. At one year, the median Constant score was 80 points and the median DASH score was 22 points. The functional results continued to be satisfactory in the twelve patients who were followed for two years. The results in our series were better than those achieved in studies of nonoperative treatment of similar fracture configurations. There were six clinically relevant complications, although none required a reoperation and all six patients had a satisfactory short-term functional outcome.
Conclusions: Internal fixation of severely impacted valgus fractures of the proximal part of the humerus, supplemented by Norian SRS bone substitute to fill the proximal humeral metaphyseal defect, produces good early functional and radiographic outcomes. Additional follow-up will be required to assess whether these initially satisfactory outcomes are maintained over the longer term.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.