Orthopedics Book


Supracondylar Fracture of Humerus

Aka: Supracondylar Fracture of Humerus, Humeral Supracondylar Fracture, Supracondylar Fracture at Elbow
  1. See Also
    1. Pediatric Fracture
    2. Lateral Condyle Fracture
  2. Epidemiology
    1. Most common elbow Fractures in Children
    2. Age of onset ranges between 2 and 12 years of age (peaks between 5 and 8 years of age)
    3. Gender: Twice as common in boys
  3. Definition
    1. Distal Humerus Fracture above the epicondyles and above the physis
  4. Pathophysiology
    1. Supracondylar region of the Humerus is the weakest part of the elbow (Humerus flattens, and widens)
  5. Imaging
    1. See Elbow XRay
    2. Posterior fat pad sign
      1. Always abnormal
      2. May be only finding in a Type 1 supracondylar Fracture
    3. Anterior humeral line
      1. Should normally pass through middle third of capitellum
      2. Displaced in Type 2 and Type 3 Fractures
    4. Extension Fracture (most common)
      1. Distal fragment displaced posteriorly
  6. Classification
    1. Type 1: Non-displaced or minimally displaced
    2. Type 2: Distal fragment displaced and intact posterior cortex
    3. Type 3: Displaced and no contact between Fracture fragments
  7. Management
    1. Orthopedic referral in all cases
    2. Type 1 Fracture
      1. Splint initially
        1. Long Arm Splint or Double Sugar-Tong Splint
      2. Cast
        1. Longarm cast with Forearm in neutral rotation and elbow at 90 degrees
        2. Cast for 3 weeks followed by XRay to demonstrate supracondylar callus
        3. Active range of motion starts after three weeks of Casting
    3. Type 2 Fracture
      1. Splint as above and follow-up with orthopedics to determine whether Casting will be sufficient
      2. Open reduction and internal fixation in some cases
    4. Type 3 Fracture
      1. Open reduction and internal fixation in all cases
  8. Complications: Type 3 Fracture
    1. Malunion or poor healing
      1. Secondary to severe displacement, incomplete reduction, or significant Soft Tissue Injury
      2. Gun stock deformity
        1. Elbow varus angulation and loss of full elbow extension
    2. Compartment Syndrome
    3. Nerve injury (transient Neuropraxia typically resolves in weeks after injury)
      1. Volkmann's Ischemia with contracture
        1. Due to local swelling and compounded by tight Splinting or cast
          1. Avoid excessive compression when applying splint
        2. Results in a combined median and Ulnar Neuropathy
          1. Claw Hand and loss of grip strength at the index finger
      2. Median Nerve injury
      3. Radial Nerve injury
      4. Anterior interosseus nerve injury
        1. Motor function only: Thumb and index finger flexion
    4. Vascular injury
      1. Brachial artery injury (rare)
  9. References
    1. Eiff (2012) Fracture Management for Primary Care, Saunders, Philadelphia, p. 265-6

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