DURHAM, N.C. -- When Dan Lemire broke his collarbone 24 years ago during a sandlot football game, doctors told him they could only offer a sling and hope for the best. Surprisingly, that was the long-standing medical treatment -- do nothing, let the bone heal on its own, and hope that the results aren't too disabling.
"Since the injury, I continued to experience soreness which limited my physical activity," said Lemire, now a 44-year-old lawyer in Brookfield, Conn. "The bone never really fused together properly. One of my arms became shorter than the other, and I experienced upper back problems because the mechanics of my shoulder and back were thrown off."
The collarbone, also known as the clavicle, is shaped like an italic letter "f," and runs above and parallel to the ribs. It is one of the major bones making up the shoulder, the most unique joint in the body, gaining its strength and flexibility from a complex interplay of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Only primates, humans and birds have clavicles.
Because of its position and its relative thinness, the clavicle is also one of the most frequently broken bones in the body. It is estimated that about 15 percent of all fractures involve the clavicle.
Unwilling to accept prevailing medical doctrine, Duke University Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carl Basamania spent much of the last decade developing and testing a new approach to this injury that is now drawing patients from across the country to Duke's operating rooms.
The new procedure and device developed by Basamania not only offers immediate treatment for patients with newly broken collarbones, but is finally providing relief for patients who, like Lemire, have lived for years with the consequences of improperly healed bones, known as malunions.
"When I decided that I wanted to fix broken collarbones, everyone thought I was crazy and
that I would certainly ruin my career," Basamania recalled. "As medical stud
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center