Article

[Supracondylar fractures of the humerus in children].

Service de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie, CHU Habib-Bourguiba, route el Aïn km 0.5, 3000 Sfax, Tunisie.
Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique et Réparatrice de l Appareil Moteur (Impact Factor: 0.55). 12/2006; 92(7):651-6.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The most frequent type of elbow fracture in children is by far the supracondylar fracture. This type of fracture also raises the greatest risk of nerve injury. We wanted to study the clinical and prognostic features of nerve injuries in children presen-ting supracondylar fractures of the humerus.
We analyzed the files of 55 children with nerve lesions identified among 1 180 files on supracondylar fractures in children. Most presented Lagrange and Ribault stage IV fractures. Nerve injuries involved the radial nerve (n=28), medial nerve (n=20), and ulnar nerve (n=7). The nerve injury was diagnosed before treatment in 32 children, and after treatment in 23. When nerve injury was identified before treatment, closed reduction had been used for eleven fractures and open reduction for 21. Nerve injury identified after treatment was found in eleven fractures after closed reduction and in 12 fractures after open reduction.
When nerve injury was recognized at the initial examination, spontaneous nerve recovery was achieved in all cases, irrespective of the treatment modality, within a maximum of four months. When nerve injury was recognized after treatment, spontaneous nerve recovery was obtained in twenty cases. Time to recovery was longer. The three other cases required nerve exploration with neurolysis for two and a nerve graft for one.
Nerve injury discovered after treatment is either caused by or aggravated by the treatment. Prognosis is less favorable than for injuries discovered at the initial examination. This highlights the importance of carefully searching for nerve deficit, even partial deficiency, in all children presenting a supracondylar fracture of the humerus. It also emphasizes the importance of care in obtaining bone reduction if the initial examination did not reveal any nerve deficit.

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