The effect of elbow position on the radial pulse measured by Doppler ultrasonography after surgical treatment of supracondylar elbow fractures in children

Randall C. Mapes, William L. Hennrikus

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32 Scopus citations

Abstract

We performed a prospective study of 20 patients with displaced extension supracondylar humerus fractures and evaluated the effect of elbow flexion, forearm supination, and forearm pronation on blood flow to the injured arm after closed reduction and Kirschner wire fixation. Ten patients had a Gartland type II fracture and 10 patients had a Gartland type III fracture. After closed reduction and percutaneous pinning, the radial pulse was examined with Doppler ultrasonography starting with the elbow in extension. The elbow was slowly flexed, and the angle of elbow flexion at which the radial pulse disappeared was determined. This angle of elbow flexion was measured with the forearm in both supination and pronation. Gartland type III fractures demonstrated less elbow flexion prior to radial pulse ablation compared to Gartland type II fractures when the forearm was placed in supination (p = 0.001) and in pronation (p = 0.005). Supination allowed ≤5°of elbow flexion prior to radial pulse ablation in six Gartland type II and four Gartland type III fractures. We concluded that after closed reduction and percutaneous Kirschner wire fixation of displaced extension supracondylar fractures, vascular safety is enhanced by extending the elbow and supinating the forearm. The ideal position of elbow immobilization depends on the amount of swelling and the presence of a radial pulse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-444
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 5 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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