This study investigated the efficacy of osteosynthesis in situ by evaluating the functional and cosmetic results in children with nonunion of lateral condyle fractures.

Sixteen consecutive patients were treated with in situ fixation consisting of minimal curettage of fracture gap and screw compression of metaphyseal fragments without bone grafting. The mean age at the time of surgery was 5.6 years (range, 1 to 10 y). The mean interval between the initial lateral condylar fracture and surgery was 4.8 months (range, 3 to 12 mo). The average amount of displacement measured on radiographs was 6.6 mm medially and 7.4 mm laterally. Outcome was assessed by clinical and radiologic evaluation at the latest follow-up.

All patients achieved bony union. The mean duration of follow-up was 45.4 months (range, 24 to 67 mo). The range of motion and flexion contracture improved postoperatively in all patients. There was no evidence of premature growth arrest, osteonecrosis, or fishtail deformity until last follow-up. The overall result was excellent in 5, good in 10, and fair in 1 patient. However, 3 patients developed valgus or varus deformities of >10 degrees.

Osteosynthesis in situ can be an effective and safe treatment for achieving bone union and improved elbow motion and preventing avascular necrosis. However, valgus or varus deformities may occur after this procedure and corrective osteotomy may be necessary.

Level IV - case series.