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Acute ischemia and pink pulseless hand in 68 of 404 gartland type III supracondylar humeral fractures in children: Urgent management and therapeutic consensus.

Injury 2016 April
UNLABELLED: No consensus exists regarding pulseless otherwise well-perfused hand in pediatric Gartland type III fractures. The purpose of this retrospective study was to describe our strategy and to determine the guidelines of therapeutic consensus.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: 404 children were treated for a type III supracondylar humeral fracture. Extension fractures-induced acute vascular injuries were noticed in 68 patients and nerve injuries were associated in 32 of them. The radial pulse was absent in all patients with two clinical situations at the initial presentation: well-perfused hand with 'pink and warm' hand in 63 patients and ischemia with 'white and cold' hand in five. Urgent closed reduction of the fracture and stabilization were performed in 63 patients with pink pulseless hand, and immediate surgical exploration in the five patients with ischemia.

RESULTS: 63 patients with vascular injury had posterolateral displacement and 5 had posteromedial displacement. Sixty-three of 68 patients had posterolateral displacement of whom 28 had concomitant median nerve injury and 4 had a deficit to both median and ulnar nerves. The palpable radial pulse was immediately restored in 42 patients and between few hours to eleven days later in eighteen. Three patients with ischemia after unsuccessful reduction required immediate surgical exploration revealing incarceration of the brachial artery at the fracture site. Release and decompression of the brachial artery restored a normal limb perfusion. The five patients with primary ischemia underwent immediate open exploration and vascular repair. One of them had a compartment syndrome and required anterior fasciotomy. The restoration of blood flow with palpable radial pulse was observed in all patients. Full spontaneous nerve recovery was observed in all patients. At an average follow-up of 8.4 years, all patients had normal circulatory status, including a palpable radial pulse.

DISCUSSION: This study highlighted the reliability of non invasive strategy with good outcomes. We recommend urgent closed reduction of fracture. Close observation and monitoring is mandatory if pulseless hand remains warm and well-perfused. If the patients develop blood circulation disturbances or compartment syndrome following closed reduction, immediate vascular exploration is recommend.

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