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Displaced supracondylar fractures of the humerus in children. Audit changes practice. 

O’Hara LJ, Barlow JW, Clarke NM. J Bone Joint Surg Br 2000 Mar;82(2):204-10

We performed an audit of 71 children with consecutive displaced, extension-type supracondylar fractures of the humerus over a period of 30 months. The fractures were classified according to the Wilkins modification of the Gartland system. There were 29 type IIA, 22 type IIB and 20 type III. We assessed the effectiveness of guidelines proposed after a previous four-year review of 83 supracondylar fractures. These recommended that: 1) an experienced surgeon should be responsible for the initial management; 2) closed or open reduction of type-IIB and type-III fractures must be supplemented by stabilisation with Kirschner (K-) wires; and 3) K-wires of adequate thickness (1.6 mm) must be used in a crossed configuration. The guidelines were followed in 52 of the 71 cases. When they were observed there were no reoperations and no malunion. In 19 children in whom they had not been observed more than one-third required further operation and six had a varus deformity. Failure to institute treatment according to the guidelines led to an unsatisfactory result in 11 patients. When they were followed the result of treatment was much better. We have devised a protocol for the management of these difficult injuries.

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