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Surgery Seldom Needed for Fracture of Proximal Humerus

In elderly, healing was just as efficient — and safer — when arm was immobilized in sling

TUESDAY, March 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — When an older patient breaks the upper arm, surgery is often no better than simply immobilizing the limb, according to a new study. The study was published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 231 people, average age 66, with a displaced fracture in the arm near the shoulder. Some of the patients had surgery to repair the fracture, while others had their arms immobilized in a sling. The researchers found no significant differences in terms of pain, arm function, or health-related quality of life between the two groups of patients after six, 12, and 24 months.

However, the risk profile was different: Ten medical complications occurred in the hospital among patients who had surgery, including two heart problems, two lung issues, two digestive events, and four others.

“These results do not support the trend of increased surgery for patients with displaced fractures of the proximal humerus,” the authors write.

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