OBJECTIVE:
To investigate the effect of timing of surgery on clinical results and perioperative complications in pediatric patients with Gartland III type supracondylar humeral fractures without neurovascular compromise.

METHODS:
Eighty-six consecutive children treated surgically at our hospital from April 2005 to June 2007 for displaced supracondylar humeral fractures were reviewed. All these patients were treated by the same group of doctors. The children were divided into two groups: early if treated within 12 hours after injury and delayed if treated later than that. Perioperative complications and clinical results, especially for open surgery, were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS:
Forty pediatric patients underwent surgery in the early group and 46 in the delayed group. There were no significant differences between the two groups in perioperative complications such as pin tract infection, iatrogenic nerve injury, compartment syndrome and conversion to open surgery. For open surgery, both the clinical results and perioperative complications were not affected by delaying for more than 12 hours after injury. However, blood loss and operation time were greater in the early than in the delayed group, possibly due to relatively more edema.

CONCLUSION:
Delay in surgery, regardless of whether it is closed or open, for more than 12 hours after injury does not influence the perioperative complications and clinical results for displaced supracondylar humeral fractures in children. However early open reduction and pinning may increase intra-operative blood loss and take longer.





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