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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 1/2018

Calcar screws and adequate reduction reduced the risk of fixation failure in proximal humeral fractures treated with a locking plate: 190 patients followed for a mean of 3 years

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Sjur Oppebøen, Annette K. B. Wikerøy, Hendrik F. S. Fuglesang, Filip C. Dolatowski, Per-Henrik Randsborg



Fixation of proximal humeral fractures (PHF) with locking plates has gained popularity over conservative treatment, but surgery may be complicated with infection, non-union, avascular necrosis (AVN) of the humeral head and fixation failure. Failure to achieve structural support of the medial column has been suggested to be an important risk factor for fixation failure. The aims of this study were to examine the effect of calcar screws and fracture reduction on the risk of fixation failure and to assess long-term shoulder pain and function.


This was a single-centre retrospective study of 190 adult PHF patients treated with a locking plate between 2011 and 2014. Reoperations due to fixation failure were the primary outcome. Risk factors for fixation failure were assessed using the Cox regression analysis. Postoperative shoulder pain and function were assessed by the Oxford Shoulder Score (OSS).


Thirty-one of 190 (16%) patients underwent a reoperation: 14 (7%) due to fixation failure, 10 (5%) due to deep infection and 2 (1%) due to AVN. The absence of calcar screws and fixation with residual varus malalignment (head-shaft angle < 120°) both increased the risk of fixation failure with an adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) of 8.6 (1.9–39.3; p = 0.005) and 4.9 (1.3–17.9; p = 0.02), respectively. The median (interquartile range) OSS was 40 (27–46).


The use of calcar screws, as well as the absence of postoperative varus malalignment, significantly reduced the risk of fixation failure. We, therefore, recommend the use of calcar screws and to avoid residual varus malalignment to improve the medial support of proximal humeral fractures treated with a locking plate.
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