Pediatric Radial Neck Fractures: Which Ones Can Be Successfully Closed Reduced in the Emergency Department?

Justin Kong, Laura Lewallen, Marilyn Elliott, ChanHee Jo, Amy L McIntosh, Christine A Ho
Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics 2021, 41 (1): 17-22

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study is to examine pediatric patients with a radial neck fracture and determine the factors associated with a failed closed reduction (CR) in the emergency department (ED).

METHODS: A total of 70 patients with acute radial neck fractures were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria were: age 18 years or younger at time of injury, diagnosis of radial neck fracture without other associated elbow fractures, an attempt at CR with manipulation in the ED or immediate surgery, open proximal radial physis, and appropriate imaging to categorize the injury. Charts were reviewed and demographic data was obtained. Initial injury films were reviewed and the Judet classification was used to define fracture types/categories.

RESULTS: CR was attempted on 41 patients. Twenty-nine patients went straight to surgery without a CR attempt. Compared with patients that had an attempted CR in the ED, patients that went straight to surgery had longer mean time from injury to ED presentation (5.6 d; P=0.0001), greater mean fracture angulation (55.0 degrees; P=0.001), and greater fracture translation (46.2%; P=0.001). When analyzing the patients that had a CR attempted in the ED, univariate statistical analysis demonstrated that ≥Judet 4 classification (P=0.03), greater amounts of fracture angulation (P=0.003), and a treatment delayed >24 hours from injury (P=0.007) were significant risk factors for failure of CR in the ED. Zero (0/10) patients with fracture angulation ≥60 degrees had a successful CR. Only 1/14 patients presenting >24 hours after injury had a successful CR in the ED.

CONCLUSIONS: Circumventing sedation in the ED, and instead splinting for a planned surgical intervention may be a more efficient treatment method for pediatric radial neck fractures that present to the ED>24 hours after injury and/or have angulations ≥60 degrees. Adopting this new strategy may save time, reduce costs, and avoid possible harm/complications associated with sedation in the ED.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III-prognostic.

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