Clinical Outcomes and Shoulder Kinematics for the "Gray Zone" Extra-articular Scapula Fracture in 5 Patients

Jyoti Sharma, Candice Maenza, Andrea Myers, Erik B Lehman, Andrew R Karduna, Robert L Sainburg, April D Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: There is a subset of scapula fractures, which can be considered in the "gray zone," where treatment guidelines are not clear-cut, based on published literature. Our paper presents the outcomes of five such scapula fractures treated non-operatively.

Methods: Adult patients who had been treated non-operatively at our institution for an isolated scapula fracture from 2003-2012 were found using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Based on injury imaging, these five patients had scapula fractures in the "gray zone."Subjects completed questionnaires [Simple Shoulder Test (SST), PROMIS Global Health Scale vs 1.1, PROMIS SF vs 1.0 Physical Function 12a, and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Score (ASES)] and physical exams were performed to assess range of motion and strength. Glenohumeral kinematics were obtained via motion analysis using the Trackstar 6 Degree of Freedom (DOF) motion tracking system by Northern Digital Incorporated.

Results: All subjects were right hand dominant. 3/5 fractures involved left, non-dominant, scapulae. Motion analysis demonstrated similar recruitment of the scapula during the glenohumeral rhythm for the fractured shoulders compared with the same arm of age matched control subjects. No significant differences occurred in either range of motion (ROM) or scapula-humeral coordination when comparing uninjured scapulae to the same arm of age matched control subjects.

Conclusions: All subjects' demonstrated acceptable clinical outcomes when treated non-operatively. Minor differences were seen in subjective surveys. However, the kinematic analysis showed no differences in measured scapula-humeral rhythm or range of motion. It is proposed that immediate controlled range of motion and rehabilitation be considered in these patients and could be the focus of a larger prospective study.

Level of Evidence: Level IV (Case Series).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Othopedics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical Outcomes and Shoulder Kinematics for the "Gray Zone" Extra-articular Scapula Fracture in 5 Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this