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Surgery Seldom Needed for Fracture of Proximal Humerus

Senior man ith painful arm in sling(HealthDay News) — When an older patient breaks the upper arm, surgery is often no better than simply immobilizing the limb, according to a new study. The study was published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 231 people, average age 66, with a displaced fracture in the arm near the shoulder. Some of the patients had surgery to repair the fracture, while others had their arms immobilized in a sling. The researchers found no significant differences in terms of pain, arm function, or health-related quality of life between the two groups of patients after six, 12, and 24 months.

However, the risk profile was different: Ten medical complications occurred in the hospital among patients who had surgery, including two heart problems, two lung issues, two digestive events, and four others.

“These results do not support the trend of increased surgery for patients with displaced fractures of the proximal humerus,” the authors write.


One comment

  1. I am a very active 58 year old female who suffered a two part displaced proximal humerus fracture with significant comminution in November, 2014 & received ORIF. I am fortunate to have excellent insurance & attended PT three times a week beginning one week after surgery for 13 weeks. I have about 90% of my arm back at this point in terms of strength & range of motion, and except when my arm is in a few odd positions, I have no pain. I would say the surgery was a complete success, with no infection or major problems. I did become ill from the pain killers, with vomiting & constipation, but those are considered relatively minor complications.

    Looking back, I wonder if my outstanding outcome was worth the surgery? I am concerned about the dose of radiation I received. I had a CT scan, there were x-Rays, follow up x-Rays, and live fluoroscopic images of my arm during surgery.

    What is known about the long term effect of this amount of radiation on human bodies from orthopedic procedures such as this?



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