Treatment of clavicular aseptic nonunion: Comparison of plating and intramedullary nailing techniques

Chi Chuan Wu*, Chun-Hsiung Shih, Wen-Jer Chen, Ching Lung Tai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate and compare the effects of plating and intramedullary nailing in the treatment of clavicular aseptic nonunion. Methods: Thirty-three consecutive patients with middle-third clavicular aseptic nonunions with previous nonoperative treatment were treated by plating (13 patients) and intramedullary nailing (20 patients) with supplementary cancellous bone grafting. The indications for such treatment were middle-third aseptic nonunions without previous operative treatment and with local pain or tenderness, deformity, or neurologic complaint. The choice of plating or intramedullary nailing was according to the surgeon's individual preference. Results: Twenty-nine patients were followed for at least 1 year (range, 1-7 years; median, 3 years; plating, 11; intramedullary nailing, 18). The union rate was 81.8% (9 of 11) for plating and 88.9% (16 of 18) for intramedullary nailing (p = 0.35, Fisher's exact test). The union period was 4.0 ± 1.3 months for plating and 4.1 ± 1.1 months for intramedullary nailing (p = 0.80, unpaired Student's t test). The complication rate was 27.3% (3 of 11) for plating and 11.1% (2 of 18) for intramedullary nailing (p = 0.21, Fisher's exact test). There were no significant differences in other parameters. Conclusion: Intramedullary nailing may have a higher union rate with a lower complication rate than plating (p > 0.05). At least in common situations, it is not inferior to plating. Whenever possible, therefore, intramedullary nailing should be used preferentially to treat clavicular aseptic nonunion without previous operative treatment. Nevertheless, both techniques have relatively higher nonunion rates in the treatment of clavicular nonunion than in the treatment of other long-bone nonunions. Gentle handling of surrounding soft tissues to reduce bony fragments should be strictly executed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 09 1998


  • Clavicular nonunion
  • Intramedullary nailing
  • Plating


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