Diaphyseal forearm fractures are very common pediatric traumas. At present, distal radius metaphyseal fractures are often successfully treated with closed reduction by emergency physicians. However, the management of diaphyseal fractures remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to analyze the results of diaphyseal forearm fractures in the emergency department (ED) in children.
Materials and methods
In a prospective 2-year-study, all closed diaphyseal forearm fractures in patients under 15, with an angle of >15° and treated by closed reduction in the ED were included. Fractures with overlapping fragments were excluded. Reduction was performed by an emergency physician, with a standardized analgesic protocol (painkillers and nitrous oxide). Clinical tolerance was checked within the first 24hours, and the radiographic stability of reduction was assessed at days 8 and 15. Initial and final follow-up radiographs were analyzed. Elbow and wrist range of motion was assessed at the final follow-up.
Sixty patients (41 boys and 19 girls) were included. Mean age was 5.2 years old (±3). At initial evaluation, the maximum angle was 30° (±11.3). After reduction, the maximum angle was significantly reduced (30° vs. 5°, P<0.001). Mean immobilization in a cast was 11.7 weeks (±2). There were no cast related complications in any of these children. There was no surgery for secondary displacement. Full range of motion was obtained in all patients at the final follow-up.
The outcome of conservative treatment of closed diaphyseal forearm fractures, without overlapping fragments was excellent. However, reduction is usually performed in the operating room by orthopedic surgeons under general anesthesia and requires hospitalization, which is very expensive. The results of this study show that high quality care may be obtained in the ED by a trained and experienced team. These results are similar to those for distal metaphyseal fractures, which could extend the indications for reduction in the ED.
Level of evidence
Level IV. Retrospective study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Diaphyseal forearm fractures, Fracture reduction in the emergency department, Fracture reduction protocol, Pediatric fracture