Pediatric Gartland Type-IV Supracondylar Humeral Fractures Have Substantial Overlap with Flexion-Type Fractures

Stuart L. Mitchell, Brian T. Sullivan, Christine A. Ho, Joshua M. Abzug, Micheal Raad, Paul D. Sponseller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background:Knowledge is limited about the diagnosis and treatment of modified Gartland type-IV supracondylar humeral fractures. We determined the prevalence of type-IV fractures, identified preoperative characteristics associated with these injuries, and assessed operative treatment characteristics.Methods:We retrospectively identified patients <16 years of age who underwent operative treatment of a supracondylar humeral fracture at 2 centers between 2008 and 2016. We compared patient, injury, and treatment characteristics between type-IV and type-III fracture groups (1:4, cases:controls). Preoperative radiographs were assessed by 4 pediatric orthopaedists blinded to fracture type. The odds of a fracture being type IV were assessed using univariate logistic regression for individual radiographic parameters. Significance was set at alpha = 0.05.Results:Type-IV fractures accounted for 39 (1.3%) of the supracondylar humeral fractures treated operatively during the study period. A type-IV fracture was associated with the following radiographic parameters: flexion angulation (odds ratio [OR] = 17; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.9 to 59), valgus angulation (OR = 5.6; 95% CI = 1.6 to 20), and lateral translation (OR = 4.1; 95% CI = 1.6 to 11) of the distal fragment; osseous apposition between the proximal and distal fragments (OR = 4.0; 95% CI = 1.8 to 9.0); and propagation of the fracture line toward the diaphysis of the proximal segment (OR = 9.2; 95% CI = 1.6 to 53). We found no significant differences in patient or injury characteristics between the groups. Compared with type-III fractures, type-IV fractures were treated more frequently with open reduction and percutaneous pinning (13% compared with 3.8%; p = 0.04) and were associated with longer mean operative time (82 ± 42 compared with 63 ± 28 minutes; p = 0.001).Conclusions:We identified 5 preoperative radiographic parameters associated with greater odds of a supracondylar humeral fracture being type IV rather than type III. No patient or injury characteristic differed significantly between the groups. Substantial overlap likely exists between type-IV and flexion-type fractures. Type-IV fractures were associated with longer operative time and were treated with open reduction more frequently than were type-III fractures.Level of Evidence:Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1351-1356
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 7 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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