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[Treatment of medial epicondylar apophyseal avulsion injury in children].

OBJECTIVE: Surgical reduction and retention of apophyseal avulsion injuries at the medial epicondyle to prevent joint instability, lasting malalignment, or pseudarthrosis.

INDICATIONS: Absolute: intraarticular apophyseal dislocation of the medial epicondyle, complete lesion of the ulnar nerve. Relative: dislocation of the apophysis (> 4 mm) in children > 5 years of age; the need for intervention increases in children as the degree of dislocation, age, and athletic activity increase.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Dislocation of the medial epicondyle (< or = 4 mm) in children < 5 years of age, provided the fragment location is not intraarticular.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: Open reduction of the apophysis through a medial approach. Identification of the ulnar nerve. In young children or with small fragments fixation with Kirschner wire. Screw fixation in older children or for larger fragments.

POSTOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT: Long upper-arm plaster cast until wound healing is achieved. Subsequently, upper-arm plaster cast for 3 weeks. Removal of Kirschner wires after 4-6 weeks, screw removal after 8-12 weeks. Physiotherapy only if marked reduction of elbow mobility is found 6 weeks after cast removal.

RESULTS: From January 1, 1994 to December 31, 2003, 25 children with an average age of 12 years suffering from medial epicondylar avulsion fractures were operated on using open reduction and Kirschner wire fixation. An average of 3 years after the injury 14 of these children underwent follow-up examination using a procedure that took subjective, clinical and radiologic parameters into account. Two children showed a slight reduction in overall strength of the injured extremity when compared with the contralateral extremity. One child had a flexion deficit of 10 degrees, all other children showed movement limitations of < or = 5 degrees compared to the contralateral extremity. In all the cases available to follow-up, there was a slight increase in valgus alignment of the elbow joint compared with the uninjured side (3 degrees on average). All fractures consolidated within 6 weeks.

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