JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Iatrogenic ulnar nerve injury after pin fixation and after antegrade nailing of supracondylar humeral fractures in children.

Acta Orthopaedica 2011 October
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Ulnar nerve injury may occur after pinning of supracondylar fractures in children. We describe the outcome and compare the rates of iatrogenic injuries to the ulnar nerve in a consecutive series of displaced supracondylar humeral fractures in children treated with either crossed pinning or antegrade nailing.

METHODS: Medical charts of all children sustaining this fracture treated at our department between 1994 and 2009 were retrospectively reviewed regarding the mode of treatment, demographic data including age and sex, the time until implant removal, the outcome, and the rate of ulnar nerve injuries.

RESULTS: 503 children (55% boys) with an average age of 6.5 years sustained a type-II, type-III, or type-IV supracondylar fracture. Of those, 440 children were included in the study. Antegrade nailing was performed in 264 (60%) of the children, and the others were treated with crossed pins. Iatrogenic ulnar nerve injury occurred in 0.4% of the children treated with antegrade nailing and in 15% of the children treated with crossed pinning. After median 3 (1.6-12) years of follow-up, the clinical outcome was good and similar between the 2 groups.

INTERPRETATION: Intramedullary antegrade nailing of displaced supracondylar humeral fractures can be considered an adequate and safe alternative to the widely performed crossed K-wire fixation. The risk of iatrogenic nerve injury after antegrade nailing is small compared to that after crossed pinning.

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