Clavicle anatomical osteosynthesis plate breakage - failure analysis report based on patient morphological parameters

Vol. 58 No. 2, 2017


Rodica Marinescu, Vasile Iulian Antoniac, Dan Ioan Stoia, Dan Constantin Laptoiu

Clavicle fracture reported incidence is about 5% of fractures in adult; among them, those located in the middle third of the shaft represent more than 80% from the total of cases. Due to the special morphological and biomechanical constraints of the clavicle, several methods for restoring morphological integrity in these fractures are described, including conservative, non-surgical treatment. The last 10 years of clinical studies in the field have favored the surgical treatment for selected cases; several osteosynthesis implants are in use - mostly anatomical plates with specific advantages and documented complications. A failed anatomical clavicle plate was explanted and analyzed after a protocol using stereomicroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectrometry. Based on the computed tomography (CT) scan determination of patient morphological parameters, a finite elements analysis of the failure scenario was completed. The failure analysis has proved that the plate breakage had occurred in the point of maximal elastic stress and minor deformation. The clinical implication is that no hole should remain free of screw during clavicle plate fixation and the implant should be chosen based on patient morphological parameters. In comminuted clavicle fracture, anatomic bridging with locked plate technique may lead to implant failure due to increase of the stress in the midshaft area. Thorough knowledge of anatomy and morphology of complex bones like the clavicle is necessary. Modern osteosynthesis anatomical implants are still to be improved.

Corresponding author: Rodica Marinescu, Associate Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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