Updated: 10/3/2018

Galeazzi Fracture - Pediatric

Review Topic
  • Overview
    • a pediatric fracture of the distal radius at the distal metaphyseal-diaphyseal junction with concomitant disruption of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ)
      • treatment in children is usually closed reduction and casting
  • Epidemiology
    • incidence
      • relatively rare injury (3% of distal radius fractures associated with DRUJ disruption)
        • less frequent than in adults
      • often missed injury pattern (up to 41%)
      • when radial fracture is < 7.5 cm from the articular surface, 55% chance of DRUJ instability (6% chance if > 7.5 cm)
    • demographics
      • peak incidence 9 to 13 years old
  • Pathophysiology
    • DRUJ disruption
      • disruption of the DRUJ in a pediatric patient can consist of
        • DRUJ dislocation 
        • a displaced ulnar physeal injury (Galeazzi-equivalent) 
          • most common 
    • pathoanatomy
      • axial loading in combination with extremes of forearm rotation (pronation or supination)
        • pronation produces an apex dorsal radial fracture with the distal ulna displaced dorsally
        • supination produces an apex volar radial fracture with the distal ulna displaced volarly
  • Associated injuries
    • nerve injuries are rare
  • DRUJ
    • osteology
      • possesses poor bony conformity in order to allow some translation with rotatory movements
    • ligamentous
      • ligament structures are critical in stabilizing the radius as it rotates about the ulna during pronation and supination
      • triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is a critical component to DRUJ stability
    • biomechanics
      • the joint is most stable at the extremes of rotation
  • Walsh classification
    • based on the position of the radius
      • Type I
        • dorsal displacement of the radius
        • due to supination force
      • Type II
        • volar displacement of the radius
        • due to pronation force
  • Symptoms
    • wrist and forearm pain
    • radial deformity
    • limitation of wrist motion
    • ulnar head prominence or deformity can sometimes be seen 
  • Physical exam
    • pain with movement or palpation of the wrist
    • DRUJ instability may be appreciated by local tenderness and instability to testing of the DRUJ
      • compare to contralateral side
    • careful examination for nerve injury
  • Radiographs
    • required views
      • AP and true lateral radiographs
        • true lateral radiograph is essential in determining the direction of displacement
        • a slightly oblique view may cause the ulna to appear subluxed
        • in a normal wrist, the ulnar styloid should point to the triquetrum in all views, including oblique projections 
    • additional views
      • contralateral radiographs often helpful for comparison
    • findings
      • displaced distal radial shaft fracture
      • DRUJ disruption
        • may be subtle and radiographs must be scrutinized
        • additional signs of DRUJ instability include
          • ulnar styloid fracture
          • widened DRUJ on posteroanterior view
          • greater than or equal to 5mm radial shortening
  • Nonoperative
    • closed reduction with long arm casting
      • indications
        • first-line of treatment in children
          • 92% of adults experience poor outcomes with non-operative management
      • reduction
        • requires anatomic reduction of both the radius fracture and the DRUJ
        • supination is required for reduction if there is dorsal subluxation of the ulna
        • pronation is required for reduction if there is volar subluxation of the ulna
      • immobilization
        • place in above elbow cast in supination 
      • outcomes
        • good to excellent with proper reduction of the radius and concomitant DRUJ reduction, even in cases where the DRUJ injury was not initially recognized
  • Operative
    • open reduction internal fixation +/- DRUJ pinning
      • indications
        • unable to obtain anatomic closed reduction
        • irreducible DRUJ due to interposed tendon or periosteum
      • technique
        • radial fixation can be done with volar plate or flexible IMN (see below)
    • ORIF, soft tissue reconstruction of DRUJ and TFCC, +/- corrective osteotomy
      • indications
        • chronic DRUJ instability (a rare consequence of a missed injury)
    • corrective osteotomy with soft tissue reconstruction of DRUJ and TFCC
      • indications
        • DRUJ subluxation is caused by a radial malunion
          • a corrective osteotomy is also required in addition to reconstruction, otherwise a soft tissue reconstruction of the DRUJ alone will fail
  • ORIF with volar plating, +/- DRUJ pinning 
    • approach
      • dorsal approach to DRUJ to remove interposed material (ECU) if unable to obtain closed reduction
      • volar approach for ORIF(with plate) 
    • open reduction
      • irreducible DRUJ requires an open reduction to remove interposed material
      • reduction can be blocked by interposed
        • tendon
          • ECU most common interposed tendon
        • periosteum
    • DRUJ stability
      • following fixation, test DRUJ (shuck test) 
        • if unstable, pin ulna to radius in supination
        • if unstable with large ulnar styloid fragment, fix ulnar styloid and splint in supination
  • ORIF with flexible intramedullary nailing, +/- DRUJ pinning
    • approach
      • percutaneous (with IMN) of radius fracture 
    • open reduction
      • same as above
    • DRUJ stability
      • same as above
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Malunion/nonunion of the radius
    • commonly a result of persistent ulnar subluxation
  • Chronic DRUJ instability
    • chronic DRUJ instability (a rare consequence of a missed injury)
    • less common in children
  • Acute carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Superficial radial nerve palsy
    • can be seen with IMN
  • Ulnar nerve injury
  • Stiffness
    • limited pronosupination
  • Extensor pollicis longus rupture
  • Ulnar physeal arrest
    • 55% incidence in Galeazzi-equivalent fractures

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Evidence (3)
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