Proximal humeral fracture (summary)

This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Proximal humeral fractures are a heterogeneous group of fractures that include everything from relatively simple transverse fractures of the surgical neck of the humerus, to complex, displaced, multi-part fractures of the proximal humerus that extend into the shoulder joint. The shoulder is a hugely important joint and fractures of the proximal humerus can be devastating to quality of life.

Reference article

This is a summary article. For more information, you can read a more in-depth reference article: proximal humeral fracture.

  • anatomy
  • epidemiology
    • predominantly older women
  • presentation
    • pain and reduced range of motion of the affected shoulder
    • possible distal neurovascular compromise
  • pathophysiology
    • often occur secondary to direct trauma
    • associated with reduced bone density (osteoporosis: older females)
    • surgical neck of humerus commonly involved
    • may extend to involve the joint
  • investigation
    • shoulder radiograph for diagnosis
    • CT for accurate assessment of complex intra-articular fractures
  • treatment
    • treatment depends on fracture type, but often collar-and-cuff
    • prognosis worse if it involves the joint

The fracture will be demonstrated as a lucency across the proximal humerus. The cortex of the humerus may have a step, or a lesser degree of cortical irregularity. There may be some angulation at the fracture.

The fracture may extend into the joint and there may be associated dislocation.

Medical student radiology curriculum

Article information

rID: 41252
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: surgical neck of humerus fracture
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  • Case 2: oblique proximal humeral fracture
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  • Case 3: multipart proximal humeral fracture
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  • Case 4: greater tuberosity undisplaced fracture
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