Q: I sustained a clavicle fracture– do I need surgery?

A: As I have explained in Hindi in this this video, vast majority of clavicle fractures will heal by themselves. Furthermore, most patients do not have any functional deficit in the future.

There are some indications where clavicle fracture fixation improves healing and outcomes. These are explained below.

Q: Does an operation makes it heal quicker?

A: An operation helps the bone to heal in proper alignment – actual bone healing time does not change substantially. The clavicle fracture is stabilised  using plate and screws. This allows you to move the arm immediately after the operation, not wait until the fracture has healed. Moving the arm prevents long term stiffness.

Q: How long does it take for a clavicle to heal?

A: On an average it should heal by 6 weeks. Some factors like age, smoking and nutritional status can affect the healing time.

Q: I am left with a bump after the fracture healed!

A: Many times this fracture heals with a permanent bump. Usually it is does not cause pain or interfere with the function. If it does, you should see a specialist, because the pain may be a result of significant shortening of the bone ends.

Q: What factors should be considered when deciding whether an operation is needed?

A: It has been explained well in this video. Some indications for surgery are:

  1. Bone ends tenting the skin.
  2. Significant displacement of bone ends (typically more than 2 cm).
  3. Multiple displaced fragments.
  4. Ligament damage along with the fracture.
  5. Floating shoulder.

Q: Is it a complex operation?

A: Yes. There are important nerves and blood vessels under the clavicle. These are carefully protected during surgery but there remains a small risk of damage. If that happens it can cause neurological deficit. Other common risks in any fracture fixation include infection, non union, plate prominence etc. Overall risk of these complications is less than 10% in the hands of an experienced surgeon.

More information about clavicle fractures can be found here. If you have any questions, please contact Dr Sarda on 7742089371 or email drsarda.in@gmail.com.