Pediatric Supracondylar Humerus Fractures: AAOS Appropriate Use Criteria Versus Actual Management at a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center

Joanne H. Wang, William Z. Morris, Blaine T. Bafus, Raymond W. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives:The purpose of this study was to characterize management of supracondylar humerus fractures (SCHFs) at a level 1 trauma center and identify factors contributing to divergence in management from American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) the Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) recommendations.Methods:A query revealed 556 patients with diagnoses of SCHF between 2013 and 2015 at a pediatric level 1 trauma center. Patients were excluded if they were younger than 2 years of age, older than 12 years of age, were polytrauma patients, or if there was not sufficient clinical or radiographic documentation, resulting in 449 patients. Urgent/emergent intervention was defined as surgery within 8 hours of presentation. Binomial logistic regression assessed whether various factors predicted operative versus nonoperative management.Results:Operative management was undertaken in 0/208 (0%) type I fractures, 61/106 (57.0%) type II fractures, and 135/135 (100%) type III fractures. Comparison with AUC recommendations revealed disagreement in 31% (138/449) of cases. Among 449 patients, 44 were treated nonoperatively despite AUC recommendations for operative treatment. All 44 of these patients were type II SCHFs managed nonoperatively. There were no definitive cases of malalignment or loss of alignment in these nonoperative cases. Factors predictive of operative management were anterior humeral line not intersecting the capitellum (odds ratio, 200; P<0.001) and increasing age (odds ratio, 1.53; P=0.024). The AUC more frequently recommended urgent/emergent operative intervention (148/449, 33.0%) than was performed at our pediatric level 1 trauma center (50/449, 11.1%). The majority of this disagreement (94/98, 95.9%) consisted of uncomplicated type III SCHF treated operatively in >8 hours. None of these patients developed compartment syndrome or required an open reduction.Conclusions:The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons AUC recommended operative and urgent/emergent intervention more frequently than was performed at a level 1 pediatric trauma center. Patient age and alignment of the anterior humeral line with the capitellum, though not specifically addressed in the AUC, were most predictive of operative versus nonoperative management at our institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e578-e585
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • AAOS appropriate use criteria
  • anterior humeral line
  • supracondylar humerus fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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