Vascular injuries and their sequelae in pediatric supracondylar humeral fractures: Toward a goal of prevention

Lawson A. Copley, John P. Dormans, Richard S. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Between 1988 and 1994, 128 consecutive children with grade III supracondylar humeral fractures presented for treatment at our hospital. Seventeen had absent or diminished (detected with Doppler but not palpable) radial pulses on initial examination. Fourteen of these 17 children recovered pulse (palpable) after reduction and stabilization of their fractures. The remaining three had persistent absence of radial pulse. Each of these three children was explored immediately and found to have a significant vascular injury requiring repair. Two of the 14 children who had initially regained their pulses had a progressive postoperative deterioration in their circulatory status during the first 24-36 h, including loss of the radial pulse. Both of these children had arteriograms that identified vascular injuries. Both underwent exploration and bypass grafting. One of these two children had been transferred 48 h after injury, resulting in delay of management of his vascular impairment. Despite exploration, vascular repair, and fasciotomy, he ultimately developed Volkmann's ischemic contracture. All five children with significant vascular injuries had absent or diminished radial pulses on presentation. Immediate reduction and fixation followed by careful evaluation and treatment of ischemia were associated with excellent outcome in four of the five children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 1996


  • Supracondylar humeral fractures
  • Vascular injury
  • Volkmann's ischemic contracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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