The most common treatment for displaced pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures is closed reduction and percutaneous pinning. However, the time for return of elbow motion after treatment of these injuries is not well documented. To describe the return of elbow motion after closed reduction and percutaneous pinning of these fractures we retrospectively reviewed 63 patients (age range, 1.6-13.8 years) with displaced supracondylar fractures of the humerus stabilized with either two or three lateral entry pins. Pins were removed by 3 to 4 weeks. No patient participated in formal physical therapy. At each followup, elbow range of motion (ROM) was recorded for the injured and uninjured extremities. Elbow ROM returned to 72% of contralateral elbow motion by 6 weeks after pinning and progressively increased to 86% by 12 weeks, 94% by 26 weeks, and 98% by 52 weeks. After closed reduction and percutaneous pinning of a displaced, uncomplicated, supracondylar humerus fracture, 94% of the child's normal elbow ROM should be expected by 6 months after pinning. Further improvement may occur up to 1 year postoperatively. This information may be helpful in advising parents what to expect after their child's injury.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:
Level IV, therapeutic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.