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One of the most common types of shoulder injuries is a broken clavicle. Broken clavicles represent about 5% of all fractures seen in emergency rooms. As recently as 10 to 15 years ago, non-operative treatment was the standard for a broken clavicle. This treatment involves placing the arm in a sling to immobilize the injured shoulder. Over a period of many weeks, the clavicle typically heals.
Surgical treatment for a clavicle fracture offers the patient a much faster recovery. In many cases, individuals who need the use of their shoulder for work or sports, are able to return to normal activity in nearly half the time as those who opt for non-surgical treatment. And with non-surgical treatment, patients have a higher likelihood of a fracture that doesn't heal (non-union), or one that heals poorly (mal-union), which requires surgery to repair.
At the Swedish Orthopedic Institute, we are on the leading edge of surgical treatment for clavicle fractures. In fact, one of our orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Carl Basamania, is responsible for the invention and development of two new surgical devices designed specifically to heal clavicle fractures.
The Rockwood Clavicle Pin and the Sonoma CRxTM are intramedullary devices. This means they are surgically inserted into the canal of the clavicle bone to help stabilize the fracture from the inside. Both procedures require much smaller incisions compared to the commonly used plate and screws technique, which involves drilling multiple holes in the bone to hold the plate in place--essentially weakening the bone once the fracture is healed and the plate is removed. Swedish Orthopedic Institute and Dr. Basamania are one of just a few places nationwide where these intramedullary treatments are commonly performed.