Background: Plate fixation is the treatment of choice for a midshaft clavicle non-union. Those non-unions that require >1 surgical procedure to heal are termed recalcitrant non-union. Regardless of the number of previously failed procedures, our surgical strategy is aimed at achieving an optimal mechanical and biological environment to facilitate healing.
Materials and methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 14 patients with a recalcitrant clavicle non-union treated with open reduction and plate fixation combined with graft augmentation when indicated. Healing rates after index surgery were analysed. All patients were observed for at least 12 months.
Results: All patients healed at a mean time of 193.2 days (range 90–390). Five of the 14 patients had at least one positive surprise culture, for which they received antibiotic treatment. At the latest follow-up, no patient reported pain or discomfort. Mean disability of the arm, shoulder and hand (DASH) score was 16.3 points (range 0–40), indicating only mild residual impairment. A possible link was found between the time between injury and definitive surgery and the time to healing [Pearson correlation 0.527, sig. (two-tailed) 0.000].
Conclusion: This study shows 100% bone healing and good functional outcomes after surgical revision for a recalcitrant clavicle non-union.
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