Background: Open reduction and internal fixation of displaced medial epicondyle fracture dislocations in adolescents is recommended for incarceration of the epicondyle in the joint and for athletes who need a stable elbow for their sport. A screw placed across the epicondyle into the medial column avoiding the olecranon fossa is a common fixation method. One author has recommended adding a metal washer to the screw fixation because of the perceived risk of epicondyle fragmentation or penetration when using a screw alone. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of a screw and washer for the fixation of pediatric medial epicondyle fractures results in less fragmentation of the epicondyle at the time of surgery and more complaints of hardware prominence leading to a second surgery to remove a deep implant. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of patients treated surgically for displaced medial epicondyle fracture dislocations between 2008 and 2014. Results: Sixteen patients with a total of 17 fracture dislocations were included in the study. The average follow-up was 11.5 months. Twelve fractures were treated with a screw and washer and 5 fractures were treated with a screw alone. All fractures healed. No fracture treated with a screw alone resulted in fragmentation or penetration of the epicondyle fragment. Seven of 12 patients treated with a screw and washer requested deep metal removal due to prominence and irritation at the medial epicondyle. No patient treated with a screw alone requested metal removal (58% vs. 0%; P=0.04). Conclusions: One author suggested that adding a washer to the screw for fixation of medial epicondyle fractures improved the ability to safely compress the fragment. However, the results of the present study report no case of fragmentation or penetration of the epicondyle when a washer was not used. In addition, the use of a screw and washer significantly increased the likelihood of a second surgery for removal of prominent hardware. Level of Evidence: Level IV.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine