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Treating Supracondylar Elbow Fractures in Children: Seeing the Challenges, Heading Off the Risks

Young boy with left arm in blue slingFor young children, running, climbing, and jumping are a normal part of healthy development. With such activities, however, comes potential for injury. According to Douglas Armstrong, M.D., Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, “Pediatric supracondylar fracture is common in kids 4 to 8 years old when they fall from monkey bars or other climbing equipment.”

Armstrong cautions against trying to reduce such fractures in the emergency department (ED) with the patient awake. “Severely displaced fractures present with pain, swelling and obvious deformity. The diagnosis is made with physical exam and plain radiograms. Most displaced fractures are treated with closed reduction in the operating room under general anesthetic with complete relaxation. Fixation with two or three K-wires allows the elbow to be immobilized in moderate flexion, reducing the risk of vascular embarrassment.” Continue reading

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