CT Images of the Shoulder - Broken Clavicle / Broken Collarbone

What does a broken collarbone /clavicle look like on a CT scan?

describe the imageAccording to news reports, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys had a CT scan showing a broken left clavicle. At this point it appears he will not need surgery but will be off the field for 6 to 8 weeks. 

Clavicle fundamentals

The clavicle (collarbone) connects the shoulder to the chest wall. Fractures can result from either an indirect trauma like a fall to an outstretched arm or due to a direct hit to the collarbone.

Sports with a high probability of direct or indirect trauma from falls or contact include football, hockey, and skiing. The clavicle, or collarbone, rests over very important structures: the subclavian artery and vein are the major circulatory structures supplying the arm with blood. The brachial plexus are the nerves coming out of the neck and going to the arm. Clavicle fractures can, but rarely do, cause injury to these structures.


As with any like fracture acute clavicle or shoulder pain, swelling and bruising are the most common symptoms along with pain when moving the arm.

What to do

Immediately after injury or impact the arm should be immobilized in a sling for comfort. To reduce swelling and pain, ice may be applied and anti-inflammatory medication used if appropriate.

Treatment options

Over 90 percent of such fractures heal without surgery. Two common options are use of a sling or a splint (i.e., figure 8 splint). Both are meant to keep the fragments still throughout the healing process of approximately 6 to 8 weeks. As your bones mend, you can start limited motion exercises to help prevent a frozen shoulder.

Most fractures do not require surgery; however, surgery may be appropriate if the collarbone is widely separated. Surgery is also recommended when nerve vessel injury occurs or if the fracture has not healed properly. If the fracture brakes through the skin surgery may be appropriate to minimize the risk of infection.

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