Fracture line morphology of complex proximal humeral fractures

Afsana Hasan, Joideep Phadnis, Ruurd Jaarsma, Gregory Bain

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Background The aim of this study was to assess proximal humeral fracture patterns using 3-dimensional computed tomography images and relate them to the normal osseous landmarks and soft-tissue attachments. Methods Forty-eight 3-dimensional computed tomography scans of proximal humeral fractures were retrospectively collected, and the fractures were transcribed onto proximal humeral templates. We analyzed the common location and orientation of the fracture lines, with a focus on fractures of the articular surface, tuberosities, metaphysis, and proximal diaphysis. These fractures were compared with the attachments of the rotator cuff and glenohumeral capsule. Results Fifty-two percent of the fractures involved the articular surface. No fractures passed through the bicipital groove, and fractures were more commonly found on the posterior lesser tuberosity and on the anterior greater tuberosity, coinciding with the intervals between the rotator cuff tendon insertions. Intracapsular fractures of the calcar were more common (68%) than extracapsular fractures (32%). On the anterolateral aspect of the proximal humerus, fractures radiated from the articular margin, vertically down through the tuberosity zone between the rotator cuff footprints, meeting horizontally oriented fractures in the metaphyseal zone. On the posterior aspect, vertical fractures from the tuberosity zone continued downward to the metaphyseal zone adjacent to the infraspinatus and teres minor footprints. Conclusions Fractures of the proximal humerus follow characteristic patterns. Fractures frequently split the greater tuberosity and are closely related to the intervals of the rotator cuff attachments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e300-e308
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


    • classification
    • Fracture
    • pattern
    • proximal humerus
    • rotator cuff footprint
    • three-dimensional CT
    • tracing


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