It’s no secret that clavicle fractures are one of the most common road cycling injuries. In fact, the injury is the most common sports trauma fracture, with over 500,000 clavicle fractures annually in the U.S. alone.
Depending on the severity and type of fracture, and the time available for recovery, the typical treatments for a clavicle fracture range from the old-school figure-8 brace (which I utilized as a teenager and, 30 years later, my younger son used as an 8-year-old) to the plate-and-screw surgery that Lance Armstrong had when he fractured his clavicle in his comeback in 2009.
In Armstrong’s case, because his clavicle was broken in several places, the surgery involved attaching a 4- to 5-inch (10- to 13-cm) plate with 12 inch-long (2.5 cm-long) screws to stabilize the fractured bone.
A new device recently introduced by Sonoma Orthopedic Products, Inc., holds the promise of less-invasive surgery for some fractures. This new device requires three small incisions, versus the large 5- to 8-inch incision required in the more traditional plate-and-screw surgery.
The Sonoma CRx is what’s called an intramedullary fixation device. That is, it is implanted within the medullary canal of the clavicle (inside the bone). These devices support the bone from the inside to allow the fracture to heal. Earlier intramedullary devices were rigid bars that used hardware on the back of the clavicle to hold the bone together.
Sonoma’s new device is made of high-grade stainless steel and has the unique ability to curve to fit the natural contour of the clavicle. It holds the clavicle on one end from the inside with mechanical grippers and is secured on the other end with a single screw. The entire device is inserted through small incisions and fits completely inside the clavicle.