Management of pediatric type III supracondylar humerus fractures in the United States: Results of a national survey of pediatric orthopaedic surgeons

Craig T. Carter, Styles L. Bertrand, David M. Cearley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Supracondylar humerus fractures are common injuries in the pediatric population. The most severe, type III injuries, have seen the most debate on treatment regimens. Traditionally, these fractures were treated as surgical emergencies, most often fixed with percutaneous pinning in a cross-pin configuration. The recent literature shows that delayed fixation is comparable to emergent fixation as long as there is no vascular compromise with the injury. METHODS: A short survey was sent to Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) members using an online survey and questionnaire service. The purpose of the survey was to establish an overview of current practices in the United States concerning treatment of type III supracondylar humerus fractures and the influence of the recent literature on the management of these injuries. RESULTS: A total of 309 members, representing a wide range of locations and years in practice, responded to our survey. About 81% preferred to splint type III supracondylar humerus fractures and plan for fixation the following morning, assuming there was no issue necessitating emergent fixation. The preferred method of percutaneous fixation was fairly evenly distributed between cross-pin configuration (30%), 2 lateral pins (33%), and 3 lateral pins (37%). About 56% of those surveyed stated that the recent literature showing comparable outcomes with 2 lateral pins versus a cross-pin configuration had not changed their approaches to management of these fractures concerning the method of fixation. CONCLUSIONS: The trend in management of type III supracondylar humerus fractures in children is progressing toward delayed treatment and lateral pin configuration. The results provide an overview of the current practice of POSNA members concerning management of these fractures. We believe this information is beneficial to both pediatric-trained and nonpediatric-trained orthopaedic surgeons to help guide their decisions when dealing with these injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-754
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Pediatric type III supracondylar humerus fracture
  • injury management
  • method of fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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