Operative Fixation of Pediatric Forearm Fractures: Does the Fracture Location Matter?

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Advances in orthopedics


Background: Flexible intramedullary nails (FNs) are successfully used to treat pediatric forearm fractures, especially midshaft fractures. Distal forearm fractures have been described as "difficult to manage" with FN insertion. The purpose of this study was to report the clinical and radiographic outcomes of using flexible nails in pediatric forearm fractures and the impact of fracture location on the outcome of the procedure.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of pediatric patients who presented with forearm fractures that were surgically treated with flexible nails between 2009 and 2018. Patient demographics, fracture location, and classification were reported. Intraoperative and postoperative complications were reported. The primary outcomes were fracture radiographic union, intraop and postop complications, and the need for additional surgical procedures.

Results: Fifty-nine patients were included, with a mean age of 11 years. All fractures healed with patients regaining full range of motion. The authors were able to use flexible nails successfully in 48/59 (81%) patients. In eleven cases (19%), FN fixation was not able to provide adequate fixation to maintain reduction. The method of fixation was changed from FN insertion to another method in nine cases. In two cases, FN fixation was augmented with another fixation method. Fractures within 3 inches of the distal articular surface were at a higher risk of intraoperative change/augmentation of the fixation method (29%) compared with fractures that occurred more than 3 inches from the distal articular surface (11%).

Conclusion: The majority of pediatric forearm fractures can be treated successfully with flexible nails. Surgeons involved in treating these fractures should pay attention to distal third fractures. Stabilizing the distally located fractures using FN fixation can be challenging. Surgeons should be prepared to use an alternative fixation method when needed.



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