There remains controversy surrounding the treatment of pediatric medial epicondyle fractures. This systematic review examines the existing literature with the aim to elucidate optimal management strategies.
A systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines was executed. All data collection was completed by August 01, 2018. Functional outcomes, diagnostic imaging, athlete management, union rates, ulnar nerve symptoms, surgical methods, surgical positioning, and posttreatment protocols were categorized and recorded. Frequency-weighted mean values were calculated with associated SDs.
Thirty-seven studies with 1022 patients met the inclusion criteria. Functional outcomes for patients were mostly good following operative and nonoperative management. The most common complication was a slight loss of elbow extension (7.6±5.9 degrees) and flexion (13.3±5.8 degrees). Operative treatment was associated with higher union rates than nonoperative management (700/725, 96% vs. 69/250, 28%; P<0.001). Standard diagnostic imaging techniques to measure displacement were unreliable with a newly proposed axial view having high inter-rater and intrarater reliability. The most common surgical method used was open reduction and internal fixation with Kirschner wires. Whereas surgical management of patients with associated ulnar nerve symptoms led to symptom resolution, nonoperative management occasionally led to the development of these symptoms. Elbow range of motion was initiated at ~2.8±1.4 (range, 0 to 8 wk) weeks after surgery and 3.4±1.2 (range, 3 to 5 wk) weeks without surgery (P<0.001).
Although there is still no consensus on treatment of pediatric medial epicondyle fractures, both operative and nonoperative approaches result in good outcomes.
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