Humeral shaft fractures

by Ntambue Kauta & Stephen Roche

Learning objectives

  1. Assess for neurovascular injuries.
  2. Understand which injuries need to be referred.
  3. Learn a save technique to immobilize fractures adequately.


Humeral shaft fractures are fractures extending from below the surgical neck to the supracondylar ridge. The mechanism of injury may be a high energy impact (falls from height, road accidents) or low energy impacts, such as a fall from standing height or trivial trauma as in pathological fractures.

Image 8.1

Clinical assessment


Attempt conservative treatment in a U Slab for six weeks.

Acceptable position

Failure to achieve and maintain these position goals should dictate the surgical treatment of the fracture.

Absolute indications for surgery

Relative indications for surgery

Common complications of humeral shaft fracture


Bhandari, M. Evidence-Based Orthopedics, First Edition, 2012, Blackwell Publishing

Blom A, Warwick D, Whitehouse M, editors. Apley & solomon's system of orthopaedics and trauma. CRC Press; 2017 Aug 29.

Green DP. Rockwood and Green's fractures in adults. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010.