Open Access Open Badges Research article

Does medial support decrease major complications of unstable proximal humerus fractures treated with locking plate?

Woo-Bin Jung1, Eun-Sun Moon1, Sung-Kyu Kim1, David Kovacevic2 and Myung-Sun Kim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chonnam National University College of Medicine, 671, Jebong-Ro, Dong-Gu, Gwangju, 501-757, South Korea

2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, USA

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:102  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-102

Published: 22 March 2013



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of medial support and clinical factors responsible on outcomes and major complications associated with treatment of unstable proximal humerus fractures using a locking plate and suture augmentation.


Sixty-three cases in 62 patients (42 female, 20 male) were evaluated between September 2004 and October 2008. Cases were divided into either a medial support group (36 cases) or non-medial support group (27 cases). Clinical and radiographic evaluations included Neer’s evaluation criteria, the neck-shaft angle using the Paavolainen method, and complications. We analyzed the correlation between bone- and fracture- related complications and three independent clinical variables, such as the presence of medial support, fracture type, and osteoporosis by way of multivariate logistic regression.


There were statistically significant differences in the overall incidence of complications based on the presence of medial support (p = 0.014) and preoperative fracture type (p = 0.018), but no differences based on the presence of osteoporosis (p = 0.157). According to multivariate logistic regression analysis, the restoration of medial support was the most reliable factor to prevent bone- and fracture- related complications. In addition, when we compared the incidence of bone- and fracture-related complications in the presence or absence of medial support among 30 patients with osteoporosis, the group with restoration of medial support had only one complication of humeral head osteonecrosis despite the presence of osteoporosis (5.9% vs. 46.2%, p = 0.025). According to Neer’s criteria, excellent or satisfactory clinical results accounted for seventy-three percent of the total cases (46 of 63 cases). Seventy-eight percent (49 of 55 cases) showed good radiographic results by the Paavolainen method. There were 14 complications in 13 of 63 cases (20.6%).


In the treatment of unstable proximal humerus fractures with locking plate technology and suture augmentation, we suggest that obtaining medial support is an important factor in preventing major bone- and fracture-related postoperative complications such as reduction loss or nonunion.

Proximal humerus fracture; Locking plate; Complication; Medial support; Osteoporosis