At a tertiary-care, level 1 pediatric trauma center, we have observed fractures of the distal phalanx involving the physis, with associated nail bed injuries, that are distinct from the classic description of the Seymour fracture. We investigated the time to definitive management and the associated morbidity of these Seymour fracture variants compared with classically described Seymour fractures. We hypothesize that these Seymour variants are similarly problematic in terms of complications and delays to the definitive treatment and thus warrant increased awareness.
A retrospective chart review was performed of all patients with distal phalanx fractures involving the physis and associated nail bed injuries that were treated with operative intervention at a single pediatric specialty institution over a 9-year period. Radiographs and clinical photographs were reviewed to determine if the patient presented with a classic Seymour fracture or variant. Primary outcomes included time from injury to definitive treatment and complication rate.
Of the 66 Seymour fractures identified in the chart review, 36 (55%) were identified as classic Seymour fractures and 30 (45%) were identified as variants. The mean time to operative intervention in the classic and variant groups was 7.3 versus 12.7 days (P=0.216). The complication rates in the classic and variant groups were 11.1% versus 23.3% (P=0.185), with infections accounting for nearly all complications identified. Overall infection rates for the classic and variant cohorts were 8.3% and 20.0% (P=0.169), respectively, with the majority presenting preoperatively (5.6% vs. 13.3%, P=0.274).
We found that patients with classic Seymour fractures or radiographic variants had statistically similar incidence rates, complication rates, and delays in treatment, with a trend towards higher complication rates and delayed time to treatment in patients with variant-type injuries. We propose a minor expansion of the definition of Seymour fractures to include common variants to increase awareness of these problematic injuries, minimize delays in treatment, and decrease complications.
Level of Evidence:
Level III; Retrospective Comparative Study.