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Supracondylar Fractures

Supracondylar Fractures

Facing Supracondylar Fractures? Read below to find out more on what you can do.

Supracondylar fractures are one of the most common types of fractures in children. They occur in the area just above the elbow, involving the distal humerus (upper arm bone) and the condyles (rounded prominences at the bottom of the humerus). These fractures can have significant orthopedic implications and require appropriate treatment to ensure optimal healing and prevent complications. Here is an overview of the implications and treatment options for supracondylar fractures in children:
Implications of Supracondylar Fractures:
  1. Nerve and blood vessel injury: Supracondylar fractures can sometimes cause injury to the nerves and blood vessels around the elbow, particularly the median nerve and brachial artery. This can lead to complications such as nerve dysfunction or ischemia (lack of blood supply) to the forearm and hand.
  2. Malunion or nonunion: Improper alignment or inadequate healing of the fracture can result in malunion (the bones healing in a misaligned position) or nonunion (the bones not healing together at all).
  3. Limited range of motion: If the fracture is not treated properly, it can lead to stiffness and restricted movement of the elbow joint.
  4. Volkmann’s ischemic contracture: In rare cases, if there is severe injury to the brachial artery resulting in inadequate blood supply, it can lead to Volkmann’s ischemic contracture, which causes muscle and joint contracture and impaired function of the forearm and hand.
Treatment Options:
The treatment of supracondylar fractures depends on several factors, including the fracture pattern, the child’s age, associated complications, and the experience of the treating orthopedic surgeon. Common treatment options include:
  1. Closed reduction and casting: This is the preferred treatment for some nondisplaced or minimally displaced fractures. The fractured bone is manipulated back into its normal position (reduced) without making an incision, and a cast is applied to immobilize the elbow joint while the fracture heals.
  2. Closed reduction and percutaneous pinning: For displaced fractures or fractures with a high risk of displacement, closed reduction may be performed followed by the insertion of percutaneous pins (thin metal wires) through the skin and into the bone to hold the fracture fragments in place. This technique provides better stability and alignment during the healing process.
  3. Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF): In complex or severely displaced fractures, an open surgical approach may be necessary. The surgeon makes an incision to directly visualize the fracture fragments, repositions them, and uses metal implants (plates and screws) to hold the bone in place during healing.
  4. Postoperative care: After surgery or casting, the child will require close follow-up care. This includes monitoring for any signs of complications, such as neurovascular compromise, and regular imaging to assess the healing progress. Physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises may be prescribed to restore range of motion and strength once the fracture has healed sufficiently.
It’s important to note that treatment decisions should be made by an orthopedic specialist based on a thorough evaluation of the specific fracture and individual patient factors.
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Supracondylar Fractures

Supracondylar Fractures

Pediatric Orthopaedics

Dr Ananda Vella

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
MBBS (Singapore), MRCS (Edin), MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Orthopaedics & Trauma)
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