Prospective, surgeon-randomized evaluation of crossed pins versus lateral pins for unstable supracondylar humerus fractures in children

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Controversy exists concerning pin placement for supracondylar humerus fractures in children. Both crossed pin and lateral only pin configurations have shown good results; however, prospective studies are lacking. We present a prospective, surgeon-randomized study comparing crossed pin (group A, n = 20) versus preferential lateral only pin (group B, n = 20) fixation for displaced supracondylar humerus fractures. There was no difference in Baumann's angle (P>0.75), the humerotrochlear angle (P>0.85), or final elbow range of motion (P>0.25). Both groups had stable reductions and clinically normal alignment. The only complication in both groups was a transient ulnar nerve irritation, despite no intraoperative evidence of nerve violation with a nerve stimulator. One patient in each group required modification of the operative plan. In group B, one patient had a medial pin inserted because of medial comminution extending proximally limiting available lateral pin placement. In group A, the surgeon elected to use lateral pins only because of an obviously subluxating ulnar nerve. In conclusion, we recommend orthopedic surgeons treating unstable pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures be facile with both medial and lateral pin placement.

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