The Effect of the Pucker Sign on Outcomes of Type III Extension Supracondylar Fractures in Children

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Abstract

Background:

The pucker sign, also called skin tenting, indicates significant displacement of the supracondylar fracture and can be a cause for alarm. The purpose of this study is to compare a cohort of patients with type III supracondylar fractures presenting with a pucker sign to a group without a pucker sign by evaluating neurovascular injury at presentation, need for open reduction, persistent neurovascular injury, range of motion, and carrying angle at final follow-up.

Methods:

A retrospective review was performed for Gartland type III extension type supracondylar fractures. Those with a pucker sign were identified and evaluated. Type III supracondylar fractures with a pucker sign were compared with a similar cohort without a pucker sign.

Results:

In total, 12 patients with a pucker sign at an average age of 5.2 years were evaluated. A total of 11 patients (92%) had diminished or absent pulses, and 2 (17%) had weakness in the median nerve distribution. Nine (75%) patients in this group were transferred to the university hospital. Average time to surgery was 8.9 hours with an average operating time of 25.1 minutes. Open reduction was not needed in any case. At an average follow-up of 4.7 months no patients had persistent neurovascular compromise. Two patients lacked <5 degrees of extension and 1 lacked 10 degrees of extension. One patient lacked 10 degrees of flexion. No patients had a change in carrying angle difference compared with the contralateral side. No statistical differences were observed between the 2 groups.

Conclusions:

Pucker sign, in the context of a supracondylar fracture of the humerus, is a soft tissue defect with potential entrapment of median nerve and brachial artery. At a maximum time of 16 hours from injury to surgery we report excellent outcomes and no long-term complications. Using the techniques of gradual traction, and milking the soft tissue, the pucker sign can be eliminated. Closed reduction and percutaneous pinning were performed in all the cases.

Level of Evidence:

Level III—retrospective comparative study.

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