Z Orthop Unfall 2020; 158(04): 406-413
DOI: 10.1055/a-0938-7041

Axillary Artery Dissection and Thrombosis after Closed Proximal Humerus Fracture – a Rare Interdisciplinary Challenge

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Sam Razaeian
1  Unfallchirurgische Klinik, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Saad Rustum
2  Klinik für Herz-, Thorax-, Transplantations- und Gefäßchirurgie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Lena Sonnow
3  Institut für diagnostische und interventionelle Radiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Rupert Meller
1  Unfallchirurgische Klinik, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Christian Krettek
1  Unfallchirurgische Klinik, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Nael Hawi
1  Unfallchirurgische Klinik, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
› Institutsangaben


Background Proximal humerus fractures account for 4 – 6% of all fractures and are a common result of low-energy trauma in the elderly. Concomitant neurovascular injury of the neighboring axillary artery and brachial plexus is a rarity, but has enormous impact on therapy, rehabilitation and prognosis. Diagnosis of axillary artery injury may be delayed due to its varied clinical presentation and lead to prolonged ischemia, distal necrosis and even loss of limb. Thorough clinical examination, high suspicion and identification of known predictors can be helpful in early diagnosis of this rare injury.

Patients/Material and Methods We report a case of an intoxicated 76-year-old male who sustained a dislocated proximal humerus fracture, resulting in concomitant brachial plexopathy and axillary artery dissection with secondary thrombosis after a low-energy fall from standing height. Due to mistriage as a neurological emergency the somnolent patient presented under delayed circumstances at our traumatological emergency department, demonstrating pain, paleness, paralysis, paresthesia and non-palpable wrist pulses. Diagnosis was made through high suspicion after clinical examination with the aid of CT angiography. Emergent open reduction and anatomic shoulder hemiarthroplasty was performed followed by axillobrachial interposition grafting using a reversed saphenous vein graft and brachial plexus exploration.

Results The surgical treatments were uncomplicated. The affected limb remains viable at 6-week follow-up; however, active shoulder function is limited due to residual brachial plexopathy.

Conclusion Despite early diagnosis and management of this rare injury, the prognosis for functional recovery is guarded and largely dictated by the extent of neurological injury in the setting of concomitant brachial plexopathy. Brachial plexopathy is highly associated with axillary artery injury and its impact often underestimated in comparison due to its non-limb-threatening nature in the acute setting. Future studies should focus on the long-term prognosis for functional recovery in patients with this rare injury pattern.


16. September 2019 (online)

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