Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Proximal humerus fractures are common, but associated injury of the axillary artery is uncommon. The majority of published blunt traumatic axillary artery injuries are associated with anterior glenohumeral dislocation; a few are associated with isolated proximal humerus fractures or fracture-dislocation. Experience within our institution demonstrates that axillary artery injury is often unrecognized on initial presentation owing to palpable peripheral pulses and the absence of ischemia and places the hand at risk of necrosis and amputation if there is prolonged ischemia and the forearm at risk of compartment syndrome after revascularization. Accurate physical examination in combination with a low threshold for Doppler examination or angiography can establish the diagnosis of axillary artery injury. We present 6 cases of axillary artery injury associated with proximal humerus fractures in order to highlight the potential for this vascular injury in the setting of a proximal humerus fracture.