What are Proximal Humerus Fractures?
A proximal humerus fracture is a break in the upper arm bone near the shoulder joint. This type of fracture can severely affect the shoulder joint and immediate medical attention is required in order to preserve shoulder function. A fracture to the humerus bone is a possible consequence of a traumatic event, such as a fall or high energy trauma.
What does ORIF mean?
Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is a surgical technique employed for the treatment of fractures to restore the normal of the bone. ORIF of a proximal humerus fracture involves making a skin incision over the fracture site and attaching a metal plate to the humerus to hold the broken edges of bone in proper alignment, facilitating the healing of the fracture.
Procedure for ORIF of a Proximal Humerus Fracture
- The surgery is performed under sterile conditions in the operating room under general anesthesia.
- An incision is made on the side or front of the upper arm to allow access to the humerus.
- Your surgeon will put the fractured ends of your humerus back into position (reduction).
- A metal plate is inserted and positioned over the humerus, and surgical screws are inserted to attach the metal plate to the bone.
- After securing the bone in place, your surgeon will close the incisions with sutures or staples and cover it with a sterile dressing.
Postoperative Care after ORIF of a Proximal Humerus Fracture
- You will need to keep your arm immobile for several weeks by using a sling to allow for bone healing.
- Your doctor will instruct you on dressings and incision care and applying ice to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Physical therapy will be suggested at the appropriate time to prevent shoulder stiffness, strengthen muscles, and restore range of motion.
- You will also be advised on a healthy diet and supplements high in vitamin D and calcium to promote bone healing.
Risks and Complications of a Proximal Humerus Fracture
Risks and complications of an ORIF of a proximal humerus fracture include:
- Damage to nerves and blood vessels
- Broken screws or plates
- Failure to heal
- Avascular necrosis
- Loss of range of motion