Clavicle fracture fixations in patients with flail chest and polytrauma

A.Yu. Fil, N.V. Levytskyy, Yu.I. Seniuk, M.I. Valigurskyi


Background. Flail chest is accompanied by clavicle fracture in 10 % of patients. Additional loss of collarbone function causes increasing respiratory insufficiency. Objective: to establish indications for fixation of clavicle fracture associated with the flail chest and polytrauma. Materials and methods. The study had been conducted in Lviv Municipal Clinical Hospital No. 8, which is fully staffed with qualified trauma surgeons and intensive care unit physicians. The in­hospital database was used to identify patients for this study from 2016 to 2018. Retrospective cohort analysis has been conducted to compare two groups of patients with polytrauma, flail chest combined with collarbone fracture. The first group was treated conservatively, the second one — surgically. Both groups received O2. All adult patients (over 18 years) had polytrauma, flail chest combined with collarbone fracture. According to the accepted definition, flail chest is when 3 or more consecutive ribs are fractured in 2 or more places. Polytrauma is defined as the injury severity score being greater than 15 points. Characteristics included age, sex, injury severity score, mechanism of injury, ma­nagement of clavicle fracture (surgical or conservative), length of stay in the intensive care unit, duration of mechanical ventilation, SpO2, length of in­hospital stay and mortality. Results. Before prescription of 100% oxygen in both groups, SpO2 and breathing rate were measured, and we have not found any significant differences: average values were 83.70 ± 0.52 % and 43 movements per minute, respectively. After surgical stabilization of the claviсle, we obtained the following results in group 2: SpO2 increased to 88.4 ± 0.7 %, breathing rate decreased to 27 movements per minute without O2 support. After prescribing 100% oxygen, SpO2 in group 2 increased to 98.3 ± 0.3 %, breathing rate decreased to 20 movements per minute. Mean duration of mechanical ventilation was 9.67 days in group 1 and 5.34 in group 2, length of stay in the intensive care unit was 15.72 days in group 1 and 12.46 days in group 2, mean length of in­hospital stay in group 1 was 32 days, in group 2 — 22 days. Operatively treated patients have no need of tracheostomy versus conservatively treated — 25 % (n = 2). We also observed the lower frequency of complications associated with artificial ventilation: in group 1, 2 cases of pneumonia (25 %) were detected, in group 2 there were no cases of pneumonia. Mortality was 12.5 % in group 1 (n = 1), all surgically treated patients survived. To establish the level of significance, SpO2 was used. For statistical data processing, Microsoft Excel was applied, with T.DIST.2T function. Null hypothesis possibility Н0 p < 0.001. Conclusions. Patients who were treated operatively has the lower mortality rate, the length of stay in the intensive care unit, length of in­hospital stay, better respiratory functions with reduction of excessive efforts. Duration of artificial lung ventilation is significantly lower in this group, as well as the incidence of pneumonia and need of tracheostomy. The clavicle could be named as a gatekeeper of the thorax. Indications for cla­vicle fracture fixation in patients with the flail chest and polytrauma are: critical condition; poor state of soft tissues; increasing respiratory insufficiency. External fixation is the method of choice as it provides minimal infection risk, minimal blood loss, minimal da­mage to the blood supply, damage control.


clavicle fracture; flail chest; polytrauma; osteosynthesis


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