Antegrade intramedullary nailing of fractures of the shaft of the humerus is reported to cause impairment of the shoulder joint. We have reviewed 33 patients with such fractures to assess how many had injuries to the ipsilateral shoulder. All had an MR scan of the shoulder within 11 days of injury. The unaffected shoulder was also scanned as a control. There was evidence of abnormality in 21 of the shoulders (63.6%) on the injured side; ten had bursitis of the subacromial space, five evidence of a partial tear of the rotator cuff, one a complete rupture of the supraspinatus tendon, four inflammatory changes in the acromioclavicular joint and one a fracture of the coracoid process. These injuries may contribute to pain and dysfunction of the shoulder following treatment, and their presence indicates that antegrade nailing is only partly, if at all, responsible for these symptoms.
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