3 years ago

Displaced humeral surgical neck fractures: classification and results of third-generation percutaneous intramedullary nailing

Pascal Boileau, Thomas D’ollonne, Charles Bessière, Adam Wilson, Philippe Clavert, Armodios M. Hatzidakis, Mikael Chelli

Publication date: Available online 12 November 2018

Source: Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Author(s): Pascal Boileau, Thomas d’Ollonne, Charles Bessière, Adam Wilson, Philippe Clavert, Armodios M. Hatzidakis, Mikael Chelli


The high rates of complications and reoperations observed with the early designs of first-generation (unlocked) and second-generation (bent design) humeral intramedullary nail (IMNs) have discouraged their use by most surgeons. The purpose of this study was to report the results of a third-generation (straight, locking, low-profile, tuberosity-based fixation) IMN, inserted through a percutaneous approach, for the treatment of displaced 2-part surgical neck fractures.


We performed a retrospective review of 41 patients who underwent placement of a third-generation IMN to treat a displaced 2-part surgical neck fracture (AO/OTA type 11A3). The mean age at surgery was 57 years (range, 17-84 years). After percutaneous insertion through the humeral head, the IMN was used as a reduction tool. Static locking fixation was achieved after axial fracture compression (“back-slap” hammering technique). Patients were reviewed and underwent radiography with a minimum of 1 year of follow-up; the mean follow-up period was 26 months (range, 12-53 months).


Preoperatively, 3 types of surgical neck fractures were observed: with valgus head deformity (Type A = 8 cases), shaft translation without head deformity (Type B = 19 cases), or with varus head deformity (Type C = 14 cases). At final follow-up, all fractures went on to union, and the mean humeral neck-shaft angle was 132° ± 5°. We observed 2 malunions and 1 case of partial humeral head avascular necrosis. No cases underwent screw migration or intra-articular penetration. At last review, mean active forward elevation was 146° (range, 90°-180°) and mean external rotation was 50° (range, 20°-80°). The mean Constant-Murley score and Subjective Shoulder Value were 71 (range, 43-95) and 80% (range, 50%-100%), respectively.


Antegrade insertion of a third-generation IMN through a percutaneous approach provides a high rate of fracture healing, excellent clinical outcome scores, and a low rate of complications. No morbidity related to the passage of the nail through the supraspinatus muscle and the cartilage was observed. The proposed A, B, and C classification allows choosing the optimal entry point for intramedullary nailing.

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