Single versus double plate fixation of humeral shaft nonunion

Unal M., Katı Y. A., Acar B., Turan A., ÖZTÜRK S., Yuksel H. Y.

Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, vol.144, no.2, pp.693-699, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 144 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00402-023-05111-6
  • Journal Name: Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, SportDiscus
  • Page Numbers: pp.693-699
  • Keywords: Double plate, Fixation, Fractures, Humeral shaft, Nonunion
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


Introduction: Humeral shaft fractures are common fractures of the diaphysis of the humerus. The aim of this study was to evaluate factors affecting the clinical outcomes of humeral nonunions surgically treated with open reduction and single- versus double-plate fixation with grafting. Materials and methods: A total of 31 patients with nonunion treated with single- or double-plate screw fixation with bone grafting were retrospectively analysed. The patients were divided into two groups according to the treatment method as Group 1 (single-plate, n = 14) and Group 2 (double-plate, n = 17). Data including demographic and clinical characteristics of the patients, initial and final treatment, type of nonunion and localisation, graft use, shortening, follow-up, time to union, Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (Quick-DASH) scores, and patient-reported cosmetic outcomes were recorded. Results: Of the patients, eight were males, and 23 were females, with a mean age of 47.6 ± 15.8 (range, 20–86) years. Initial treatment was conservative treatment (Sarmiento brace) in seven patients, plate fixation in 22 patients, and intramedullary nailing in two patients. The mean follow-up was 31.0 ± 16.9 months in Group 1 and 25.4 ± 15.6 months in Group 2. There was one nonunion in Group 1 and three in Group 2. There were no significant differences in the union rate and time to union (p = 0.378 and p = 0.262, respectively). The mean Quick-DASH scores and cosmetic results were similar between the groups (p = 0.423 and p = 0.165, respectively). Radial nerve palsy developed in three patients in Group 2, and all these patients recovered completely during follow-up. Conclusions: Although the double-plate fixation technique has similar clinical, radiological, and functional results to single-plate fixation, it is a more invasive and expensive technique with a longer operation time. Therefore, it should not be used as the first-line treatment option for all humeral shaft nonunion. Nevertheless, the double-plate technique may be preferred to achieve in cases requiring high stability, such as hypertrophic nonunion, osteopenia and comminuted fractures.