Surgical fixation of midshaft clavicle fractures: A systematic review of biomechanical studies

Martijn H. Hulsmans, Mark van Heijl, Roderick M. Houwert, Bart J. Burger, Egbert Jan M. Verleisdonk*, Dirk Jan Veeger, Olivier A. van der Meijden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Surgical treatment of displaced midshaft clavicle fractures requires a decision between plate fixation and intramedullary (IM) fixation. Numerous studies report on the biomechanical properties of various repair constructs. The goal of this systematic review was to provide an overview of studies describing the biomechanical properties of the most commonly used surgical fixations of midshaft clavicle fractures. Additionally, we aimed to translate these biomechanical results into clinically relevant conclusions. Methods: A computer-aided search of the EMBASE and PudMed/MEDLINE databases was conducted. Studies included for review compared biomechanical properties of plate fixation with IM fixation and superiorly positioned plates with anteroinferiorly positioned plates for midshaft clavicle fractures. Results: Fifteen studies were eligible for inclusion. Plate fixation seemed to form a more robust construct than IM fixation in terms of stiffness and failure loading. The remaining clavicle was stronger after removal of the IM device than after removal of the plate. Superior plating of transverse fractures generally seemed to provide greater stiffness and strength during bending loads than anteroinferior plating did. The absence of cortical alignment in wedge and comminuted fractures directly influenced the fixation stability for both IM fixation and plate fixation, regardless of location. Conclusion: Each type of fracture fixation has biomechanical advantages and disadvantages. However, exact thresholds of stiffness for inducing healing and failure strength to withstand refractures are unknown. The clinical relevance of the biomechanical studies may be arguable. Since none of the studies investigate the effect of tissue adaptation over time they should be interpreted with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-765
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Biomechanical
  • Biomechanics
  • Clavicle fracture
  • Clinical relevance
  • Failure
  • Intramedullary
  • Pin
  • Plate fixation
  • Stiffness
  • Superior


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