Proximal humeral nonunions treated with fixed-angle locked plating and an intramedullary strut allograft

Brian L. Badman, Mark Mighell, Steven P. Kalandiak, Mark Prasarn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine if the use of a fixed-angle locked plate plus an intramedullary allograft in the treatment of proximal humeral nonunions resulted in improved union. DESIGN: Retrospective clinical analysis of patients' medical charts and radiographs. SETTING: Clinical practice of senior authors. PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: Eighteen patients who presented to the senior authors' clinic between 2001 and 2007 with clinical and radiographic evidence of symptomatic proximal humeral nonunions that were treated with the described method were included for analysis. Patients with severe humeral head bone loss, avascular necrosis, evidence of arthrosis, and less than 12-month clinical follow-up were excluded. INTERVENTION: All patients with a symptomatic viable nonunion of the proximal humerus were treated with a fixed-angle locked plate and an intramedullary cortical allograft. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENT: Patients were followed until radiographic union was achieved, with this being the principle determinant of a successful outcome. RESULTS: Radiographic union was achieved in 17 of 18 patients (94%). The average follow-up was 26.5 months (range 12-49 months). The average time from surgery to radiographic union was 5.4 months (range 2.5-8.8 months). There was 1 failure of fixation, and 2 patients developed transient neurologic sequelae. Range of motion measurements obtained from the most recent clinical follow-up were 115 degrees (range 20-180 degrees) active forward elevation, 37 degrees (range 0-70 degrees) passive external rotation, and active internal rotation was to the 10th thoracic vertebrae. American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon scores improved from a level of 40 preoperatively to 81 postoperatively, and visual analog scale scores improved from 6.7 to 1.5. CONCLUSION: Intramedullary strut allograft insertion combined with fixed-angle plating is an effective technique for treating viable nonunions of the proximal humerus and was successful in achieving union in 94% of our patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Fixed-angle locked plating
  • Nonunions
  • Proximal humeral fractures
  • Structural allograft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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