Delaying Surgery in Type III Supracondylar Humerus Fractures Does Not Lead to Longer Surgical Times or More Difficult Reduction

Pooja Prabhakar, Christine A. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


To determine if delay in surgical treatment of type III supracondylar humerus fracture would affect the length of operative time.Design:Retrospective cohort study.Setting:Level 1 trauma center.Patients/Participants:This is a series of 309 modified Gartland type III supracondylar fractures treated operatively from 2011 to 2013.Intervention:Fifteen hours was defined as the cutoff between early and delayed treatment. A total of 53.7% (166/309) fractures were treated early, and 46.4% (143/309) were delayed.Main Outcome Measurements:Surgical time was defined as "incision start" to "incision close." Fluoroscopy time was used as a surrogate for difficulty of reduction.Results:Time from injury to operating room was shorter for high-energy fractures (fractures with soft-tissue or neurovascular injury) versus low-energy fractures (12.9 vs. 15.3 hours, P < 0.0001); however, surgical time (37.3 vs. 31.8 minutes, P = 0.004) and fluoroscopy time (54.6 vs. 48.6 seconds, P = 0.027) were longer in high-energy fractures versus low-energy fractures. Among low-energy fractures, no significant difference was detected in the surgical time between the early and delayed treatment groups or in the fluoroscopy time. In addition, there was no statistically significant difference found in the surgical or fluoroscopy time with the presence of a surgical assistant.Conclusions:Delay in surgery did not result in a longer surgical time or more difficult reduction for type III supracondylar humerus fracture. Patients with low-energy fractures still underwent a shorter operative time even with delay from injury to surgery.Level of Evidence:Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E285-E290
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • operative time
  • supracondylar humerus fracture
  • surgical delay
  • type 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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