We treated 39 patients with fractures of the humeral shaft by closed retrograde locked intramedullary nailing, using Russell-Taylor humeral nails. The mean healing time of all fractures was 13.7 weeks. After consolidation, shoulder function was excellent in 92.3% and elbow function excellent in 87.2%. Functional end-results were excellent in 84.6% of patients, moderate in 10.3% and bad in 5.1%. One patient had a postoperative radial nerve palsy, which recovered within three months. There was additional comminution at the fracture site in three patients (7.7%) which did not affect healing, and slight nail migration in two older patients (5.1%). Two patients (5.1%) needed a second procedure because of disturbed fracture healing. One screw breakage was seen in a patient with delayed union. Retrograde locked humeral nailing appears to be a better solution for the stabilisation of fractures of the humeral shaft than anterograde nailing or plate and screw fixation. We found the complication rate to be acceptable and shoulder and elbow function to recover rapidly in most cases.
- © 1995 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery