Fracture Classification Does Not Predict Functional Outcomes in Supracondylar Humerus Fractures: A Prospective Study

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Abstract

Background:

Few studies have prospectively assessed functional outcomes after the surgical management of supracondylar humerus fractures (SCHFXs) and the relationship between fracture pattern and ultimate patient outcome has never been prospectively evaluated. The purpose of this study was to prospectively evaluate fracture classification and functional outcome in children with extension SCHFXs using validated outcome measures.

Methods:

An Institutional Review Board-approved prospective enrollment of consecutive patients with operative SCHFX was performed over a 3-year period. Fractures were classified by the treating surgeon using the modified Gartland classification. Functional outcome was assessed at final follow-up using the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instruments (PODCI) and the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) outcome measure. Patients with flexion-type fractures, multidirectionally unstable fractures and those with <10 weeks follow-up were excluded from analysis. Statistical analysis was used to determine the relationship between fracture classification/pattern and functional outcome.

Results:

Seven hundred fifty-two patients were enrolled during the study period. One hundred thirty-two patients with extension-type injuries (average age 6.7 y) completed functional outcome measures at an average follow-up of 12.4 weeks. Forty-five (34%) were type II fractures and 87 (66%) were type III fractures. Forty-five (34%) of the fractures were posteromedially displaced, 43 (33%) were posterolaterally displaced, and 44 (33%) were posteriorly displaced without coronal plane deformity. The average PODCI global functioning scale score and QuickDASH scores for the entire cohort were 93.6 and 11.4, respectively, indicating excellent function. No differences in outcome scores were noted between patients with type II and III fractures. No difference in outcome was identified based upon direction of fracture displacement.

Conclusions:

This is the first study to prospectively analyze fracture classification and functional outcome using validated outcome measures following the operative treatment of pediatric extension-type SCHFX. Children generally have excellent functional outcomes following the operative treatment of SCHFX. Garland classification and direction of displacement do not influence functional outcomes.

Level of Evidence:

Level II—therapeutic.

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