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The Radiographic Union Score for HUmeral fractures (RUSHU) predicts humeral shaft nonunion

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The primary aim of this study was to develop a reliable, effective radiological score to assess the healing of humeral shaft fractures, the Radiographic Union Score for HUmeral fractures (RUSHU). The secondary aim was to assess whether the six-week RUSHU was predictive of nonunion at six months after the injury.

Patients and Methods

Initially, 20 patients with radiographs six weeks following a humeral shaft fracture were selected at random from a trauma database and scored by three observers, based on the Radiographic Union Scale for Tibial fractures system. After refinement of the RUSHU criteria, a second group of 60 patients with radiographs six weeks after injury, 40 with fractures that united and 20 with fractures that developed nonunion, were scored by two blinded observers.


After refinement, the interobserver intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was 0.79 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.67 to 0.87), indicating substantial agreement. At six weeks after injury, patients whose fractures united had a significantly higher median score than those who developed nonunion (10 vs 7; p < 0.001). A receiver operating characteristic curve determined that a RUSHU cut-off of < 8 was predictive of nonunion (area under the curve = 0.84, 95% CI 0.74 to 0.94). The sensitivity was 75% and specificity 80% with a positive predictive value (PPV) of 65% and a negative predictive value of 86%. Patients with a RUSHU < 8 (n = 23) were more likely to develop nonunion than those with a RUSHU ≥ 8 (n = 37, odds ratio 12.0, 95% CI 3.4 to 42.9). Based on a PPV of 65%, if all patients with a RUSHU < 8 underwent fixation, the number of procedures needed to avoid one nonunion would be 1.5.


The RUSHU is reliable and effective in identifying patients at risk of nonunion of a humeral shaft fracture at six weeks after injury. This tool requires external validation but could potentially reduce the morbidity associated with delayed treatment of an established nonunion.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:1300–1306

Correspondence should be sent to W. M. Oliver; email:

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