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Scapula Fracture

Fractures of the Shoulder Blade

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Updated January 01, 2014

scapula shoulder blade

The scapula is the shoulder blade bone and forms the shoulder joint socket.

Image © Medical Multimedia Group

A scapula fracture is an uncommon injury. The scapula, or shoulder blade, is a wide, flat bone that sits behind the rib cage. The scapula connects to the clavicle (collar bone) in the front of the body, and to the humerus (arm bone) at the side. Part of the scapula is lined with cartilage (the glenoid) and forms the socket of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint.

What types of scapula fractures occur?

  • Scapular Body Fractures
    Scapular body fractures are the most common type of scapula fracture. These injuries seldom require any specific treatment more than a simple arm sling. The important fact is that scapular body fractures are commonly (80-90%) associated with other injuries such as lung and chest injuries.
  • Scapular Neck Fractures
    Scapular neck fractures occur just adjacent to the glenoid--part of the shoulder joint. Again, most of these fractures can be treated without surgery unless there is significant angulation of the broken bones. In these cases, the shoulder joint can be affected if surgery is not done to realign the bones.
  • Glenoid Fractures
    Glenoid fractures involve the cartilage surfaces of the shoulder joint. These fractures require surgery when the should joint becomes unstable or if the fragments are far out of alignment. Patients with glenoid fractures are at risk of developing shoulder arthritis.

Sources:

Cole PA, et al. "Management of Scapular Fractures" J Am Acad Orthop Surg March 2012 vol. 20 no. 3 130-141.

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