Functional outcomes of Gartland III supracondylar humerus fractures with early neurovascular complications in children: A retrospective observational study

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Abstract

This was a retrospective observational study. The aim of this study was to evaluate functional outcomes in children treated for Gartland III supracondylar humerus (SCH) fracture with neurovascular (NV) injuries using validated outcome measures. A secondary goal was to determine whether clinical parameters such as age at injury, sex, weight, fracture site, and/or direction of displacement could predict NV injury at the time of fracture or long-term functional outcomes in these patients.

One hundred fifty-four patients of Gartland III SCH fractures between March 2004 and May 2013 were studied retrospectively. The patients were divided into 2 groups according to the presence of NV injury. Medical records and radiographs were reviewed to assess several parameters, including age, sex, weight, treatment intervention, the extremity involved, direction of fracture displacement, and NV injury. Functional outcome was assessed on final follow-up using the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI) and Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (Quick DASH) outcome measures. Statistical analysis was used to determine the relationship between NV injury and functional outcomes.

There were 33 cases with Gartland III SCH fracture associated with NV injuries (10 cases of vascular compromise, 14 cases of neural injury, and 9 cases involving both vascular compromise and neural injury). There were significant differences between the 2 groups in age (P  =  .048), weight (P  =  .009), and direction of displacement (P  =  .004). Vascular compromise and median nerve injury were most common in fractures with posterolateral displacement, and radial nerve injuries were common in fractures with posteromedial displacement. The mean global function score in the PODCI was 91.4 points, and the mean Quick DASH score was 11.7 points, with excellent functional outcomes. No differences in outcomes were identified based upon age, fracture site, sex, weight, direction of displacement, or operative technique in NV injury patients (P > .05).

The majority of patients with Gartland III SCH fractures associated with NV injuries returned to a high functioning level after treatment of their injuries. NV injury does not appear to influence functional outcomes. Good functional results can be expected regardless of age, fracture site, sex, weight, direction of displacement, and operative technique.

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