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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 208-215

Diaphyseal humeral fractures and intramedullary nailing: Can we improve outcomes?


Department of Orthopedics, Evangelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece

Correspondence Address:
Christos Garnavos
5, Poseidonos St., Glyfada 16674, Athens
Greece
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5413.67117

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While intramedullary nailing has been established as the treatment of choice for diaphyseal fractures of the femur and tibia, its role in the management of diaphyseal humeral fractures remains controversial. The reasons include not only the complicated anatomy and unique biomechanical characteristics of the arm but also the fact that surgical technique and nail designs devised for the treatment of femoral and tibial fractures are being transposed to the humerus. As a result there is no consensus on many aspects of the humeral nailing procedure, e.g., the basic nail design, nail selection criteria, timing of the procedure, and the fundamental principles of the surgical technique (e.g., antegrade/retrograde, reamed/unreamed, and static/dynamic). These issues will be analyzed and discussed in the present article. Proposals aiming to improve outcomes include the categorization of humeral nails in two distinct groups: "fixed" and "bio", avoidance of reaming for the antegrade technique and utilization of "semi-reaming" for the retrograde technique, guidelines for reducing complications, setting the best "timing" for nailing and criteria for selecting the most appropriate surgical technique (antegrade or retrograde). Finally, suggestions are made on proper planning and conducting clinical and biomechanical studies regarding the use of intramedullary nailing in the management of humeral shaft fractures.


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