Complex clavicle fractures in children: Kids are not little adults

Hayk Stepanyan, William Hennrikus, Derek Flynn, David Gendelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The clavicle is the most commonly fractured bone in the body and accounts for 10–15% of all pediatric fractures. Adult patients with complete midshaft clavicle fractures often undergo surgical management. Pediatric patients have a thicker periosteum, more robust blood supply and a greater healing potential. Controversy exists as to whether to treat adolescents with surgery similar to adults versus with a sling as children are treated. Some orthopaedic surgeons are now operating on adolescent clavicle fractures. Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the outcomes of displaced midshaft clavicle fractures in adolescent who were treated conservatively with a sling. Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of 25 pediatric patients aged 12–16 with complete midshaft clavicle fracture. The outcomes of the study were bony union and functional outcomes such as pain, problems with ADL measured by the modified Disability of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) score. Results: All patients in our cohort had excellent outcomes at follow-up visits with no complaints of pain or limitations of activities of daily living. Mean follow-up time was 12 months. All patients had perfect modified DASH score of 18. Injury radiographs demonstrated an average of 13 mm shortening initially and 8 mm shortening in final follow-up. Average fracture angulation at final follow-up was 15°. Normal clavicle angulation at the mid shaft is 8°. All clavicles healed completely with no case of malunion or non-union reported. Conclusion: Clavicle fractures are common. Although operative treatment of clavicle fractures in the adult population is gaining popularity due to issues in adults with non-union and malunion, the adolescent population is different. The adolescent clavicle fracture demonstrates robust healing and remodeling and complete return to full function. We therefore recommend that adolescent patients aged 12–16 with complete clavicle fracture be treated conservatively with a sling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalTrauma (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Complex clavicle fractures in children: Kids are not little adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this