A broken collarbone, or clavicle fracture, is a common injury, often resulting from falls, sports injuries or other forced trauma on the shoulder. While many collarbone fractures heal successfully with conservative treatments like immobilization and rest, some cases may require surgical intervention based on various factors such as the severity of the fracture, displacement or associated injuries.
Indications for Surgery
The determination of whether surgery is needed for a clavicle fracture is usually during the initial exam after the injury. X-rays and other imaging are performed to diagnose the severity of the fracture and determine whether surgery is necessary. Some of the indications for clavicle repair surgery include:
- Severe Displacement: If the broken ends of the collarbone are significantly displaced or angulated, surgery may be necessary. Misaligned fractures can affect shoulder function, leading to discomfort, limited mobility, and potential complications in healing.
- Open Fractures: In cases where the broken bone pierces the skin (open fracture), surgical intervention might be required to prevent infection and promote proper healing. Open fractures are at a higher risk of complications compared to closed fractures.
- Multiple Fractures or Complex Injuries: Collarbone fractures occurring in conjunction with other significant injuries or multiple fractures in the same area might necessitate surgical stabilization to ensure proper alignment and healing.
In some cases, the collarbone may not heal properly with conservative methods, resulting in a non-union (lack of bone healing) or delayed union. Surgery becomes necessary to realign the bones and facilitate proper healing.
Surgical Techniques for Collarbone Fractures
When surgery is indicated for a broken collarbone, there are various surgical techniques that may be utilized. Jonathan L. Glashow, MD, has vast experience performing complex orthopedic surgeries to repair fractures. The most common method is open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF): This surgical procedure involves realigning the fractured ends of the collarbone and securing them in place using plates, screws, or pins. ORIF stabilizes the fracture, allowing for optimal healing and restoration of shoulder function.
Another option for repairing broken collarbones is intramedullary fixation. In this technique, a metal rod is inserted into the center of the collarbone to stabilize the fracture. The rod acts as an internal splint, keeping the fractured bone in alignment while it heals.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
After collarbone surgery, recovery involves a period of immobilization and rehabilitation to regain strength and mobility. Patients typically wear a sling or brace to support the healing bone. Physical therapy and exercises may be recommended to gradually restore the shoulder range of motion, strength and function.
Consultation with an Orthopedic Specialist
The decision for surgical intervention depends on various factors and should be made in consultation with an orthopedic surgeon or a specialist experienced in managing collarbone fractures. Dr. Jonathan Glashow is a world-class orthopedic surgeon who has performed countless fracture repairs for professional athletes and other patients with complex orthopedic injuries. During a consultation with Dr. Glashow, he will evaluate the specifics of the fracture, consider the patient’s overall health and recommend the most suitable treatment plan, whether surgical or conservative, to optimize healing and restore shoulder function. If you need an orthopedic specialist for a broken collarbone, contact the NYC office of Dr. Jonathan Glashow to schedule an appointment.