Predicting ulnar nerve location in pinning of supracondylar humerus fractures

William M. Wind, Richard M. Schwend, Douglas Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Thirty-four consecutive patients with displaced supracondylar humerus fractures were treated with reduction and percutaneous pinning. The precise location of the ulnar nerve to the medial pin was determined by intraoperative nerve stimulation. In 22 of the 34 patients, the authors attempted to predict the location of the ulnar nerve by palpation and placing a mark on the skin. They also recorded the ability to feel the anatomic landmarks for pin fixation, including the medial epicondyle and ulnar nerve. The average distance from the medial pin to the predicted location was 9.3 mm, whereas the actual distance measured 7.6 mm, for a significant difference of 1.7 mm. Statistically, the authors could not accurately predict the location of the ulnar nerve prior to blind percutaneous crossed K-wire fixation of supracondylar humerus fractures. However, clinically they were fairly close in their prediction and documented safe insertion and distance from the nerve. Intraoperative nerve stimulation may assist in localizing the nerve prior to placement of the medial pin. Stimulation of the pin itself following insertion is another technique to ensure safe pin placement and decrease the risk of injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-447
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 6 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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