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Kirchhoff, Chlodwig; Braunstein, Volker; Kirchhoff, Sonja; Sprecher, Christoph M.; Ockert, Ben; Fischer, Florian; Leidel, Bernd A.; Biberthaler, Peter (2008): Outcome analysis following removal of locking plate fixation of the proximal humerus. In: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 9:138


Background: Concerning surgical management experience with locking plates for proximal humeral fractures has been described with promising results. Though, distinct hardware related complaints after fracture union are reported. Information concerning the outcome after removal of hardware from the proximal humerus is lacking and most studies on hardware removal are focused on the lower extremity. Therefore the aim of this study was to analyze the functional short-term outcome following removal of locking plate fixation of the proximal humerus. Methods: Patients undergoing removal of a locking plate of the proximal humerus were prospectively followed. Patients were subdivided into the following groups: Group HI: symptoms of hardware related subacromial impingement, Group RD: persisting rotation deficit, Group RQ: patients with request for a hardware removal. The clinical (Constant-Murley score) and radiologic (AP and axial view) follow-up took place three and six months after the operation. To evaluate subjective results, the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36), was completed. Results: 59 patients were included. The mean length of time with the hardware in place was 15.2 +/- 3.81 months. The mean of the adjusted overall Constant score before hardware removal was 66.2 +/- 25.2% and increased significantly to 73.1 +/- 22.5% after 3 months; and to 84.3 +/- 20.6% after 6 months (p < 0.001). The mean of preoperative pain on the VAS-scale before hardware removal was 5.2 +/- 2.9, after 6 months pain in all groups decreased significantly (p < 0.001). The SF-36 physical component score revealed a significant overall improvement in both genders (p < 0.001) at six months. Conclusion: A significant improvement of clinical outcome following removal was found. However, a general recommendation for hardware removal is not justified, as the risk of an anew surgical and anesthetic procedure with all possible complications has to be carefully taken into account. However, for patients with distinct symptoms it might be justified.