Main Article Content
Purpose: To investigate the two-year functional outcomes and complications following operative versus non-operative treatment of completely displaced midshaft clavicle fractures in adolescents.
Methods: All patients 10-18 years old treated for a midshaft clavicle fracture between August, 2013 and August, 2018 at one of 8 geographically diverse, high-volume, tertiary-care pediatric centers were enrolled, with independent treatment decisions determined by individual providers. The sub-population of patients with completely displaced fractures was prospectively followed for over 2 years. Clinical course, complications, validated patient-reported outcome measures (PROs), quality of life metrics, and satisfaction scores were analyzed. To address the ceiling effect of the PRO/satisfaction data following clavicle injuries, a priori thresholds for ‘suboptimal’ scores were established (ASES scores <90, QuickDASH scores >10, EQ-5D <0.80). According to ‘intention to treat’ statistical principles, one post-operative complication (and a subsequent secondary operation) was analyzed within the non-operative cohort, given that the patient represented a ‘crossover’ from the non-operative to the operative treatment group.
Results: Of the 909 patients enrolled in the prospective study, 417 patients (45.9%) demonstrated completely displaced fractures and maintained enrollment over the study period, 277 (66%) of whom had reached two year follow up, and 151 of whom provided adequate PRO data, representing a 55% response rate. Of these patients, 55 (36%) underwent operative treatment, while 96 (64%) were treated non-operatively. Those treated surgically showed no difference in gender distribution (76% males,p=0.43), athletic participation (p=0.76), or fracture pattern (p=0.18), but were older (mean age 15.3 vs. 13.5 years, p<0.001) and had greater shortening (p<0.001) than those treated non-operatively. Within the subset with adequate complication data, listed in Table 1, complications were less common in non-surgical than surgical patients (p=0.0003), but this difference did not reach significance when sensory deficits were excluded (p=0.17). There was no difference in secondary surgeries (p=0.43). While greater percentages of operative than non-operative patients reported suboptimal PRO/satisfaction scores (ASES: 15% vs. 5%, QuickDASH 11% vs. 5%, satisfaction 11% vs. 5%), these differences did not reach significance (p=0.07, 0.20, 0.06, respectively).
Conclusion: At eight large pediatric centers with many surgeons making independent treatment decisions, non-operative treatment of adolescent clavicle fractures demonstrated lower complication rates and similar satisfaction and functional outcomes.
Significance: These data establish a comprehensive functional assessment of adolescents treated for clavicle fractures, which represents the epidemiological sub-population most affected by this condition. Unlike several adult studies demonstrating superiority in operative treatment, this adolescent study demonstrates equivalent function and fewer complications associated with non-operative treatment.