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Mortality after a proximal humeral fracture

data on 18,452 patients from the Swedish Fracture Register

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The aims of this study were to investigate the mortality following a proximal humeral fracture. Data from a large population-based fracture register were used to quantify 30-day, 90-day, and one-year mortality rates after a proximal humeral fracture. Associations between the risk of mortality and the type of fracture and its treatment were assessed, and mortality rates were compared between patients who sustained a fracture and the general population.


All patients with a proximal humeral fracture recorded in the Swedish Fracture Register between 2011 and 2017 were included in the study. Those who died during follow-up were identified via linkage with the Swedish Tax Agency population register. Age- and sex-adjusted controls were retrieved from Statistics Sweden and standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated.


A total of 18,452 patients who sustained a proximal humeral fracture were included. Their mean age was 68.8 years (16 to 107) and the majority (13,729; 74.4%) were women. A total of 310 (1.68%) died within 30 days, 615 (3.33%) within 90 days, and 1,445 (7.83%) within one year after the injury. The mortality in patients sustaining a fracture and the general population was 1,680/100,000 and 326/100,000 at 30 days, 3,333/100,000 and 979/100,000 at 90 days, and 7,831/100,000 and 3,970/100,000 at one year, respectively. Increasing age, male sex, low-energy trauma, type A fracture, concomitant fractures, and non-surgical treatment were all independent factors associated with an increased risk of mortality.


Compared with the general population, patients sustaining a proximal humeral fracture have a significantly higher risk of mortality up to one year after the injury. The risk of mortality is five times higher during the first 30 days, diminishing to two times higher at one year, suggesting that these patients constitute a strikingly frail group, in whom appropriate immediate management and medical optimization are required.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(11):1484–1490.

Correspondence should be sent to Carl Bergdahl. E-mail:

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