Vascular examination predicts functional outcomes in supracondylar humerus fractures: A prospective study

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2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This article prospectively examines the functional outcome measures following management of vascular insult secondary to paediatric supracondylar humerus fractures (SCHFX) using validated outcome measures. Methods: The three-year, prospective, IRB-approved study consecutively enrolled operative SCHFX patients. Clinical data included presence and symmetry of the radial pulse in injured and uninjured extremities, Doppler examination of non-palpable (NP) pulses and perfusion status of the hand. Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instruments (PODCI) and the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) Measures were used to assess functional outcome at final follow-up. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between the presence of a vascular abnormality and functional outcome while con-trolling for other injury parameters. Results: A total of 146/752 enrolled patients (mean age 6.8 years; range 2 years to 13 years) completed functional outcome measures at final follow-up. Of these, 20 (14%) patients had abnormal vascular exams at presentation: nine (6%) with palpable asymmetric pulse and 11 (7.5%) with NP pulse. Of those with NP pulses, nine/11 (6%) were Dopplerable and two (1.5%) lacked identifiable Doppler signal. Patients with a symmetric, palpable pulse demonstrated better PODCI pain and comfort scores (95.2 versus 85.2) (p < 0.0001), and QuickDASH scores (10.9 versus 21.6) (p < 0.007) compared to those with any abnormal vascular examination. Patients with palpable pulses, regardless of symmetry, demonstrated significantly higher PODCI pain and comfort scores (94.6 versus 84.7) (p < 0.003) than NP pulses. Conclusions: In children with operative SCHFX, an abnormal vascular examination at presentation is predictive of poorer outcomes in pain and upper extremity function. A palpable pulse, versus NP, is predictive of better pain and comfort at final follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-501
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Children's Orthopaedics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


  • Outcomes
  • Pulseless
  • Supracondylar humerus fracture
  • Vascular examination
  • Vascular injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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