Current Concepts in the Treatment of Lateral Condyle Fractures in Children

Joshua M. Abzug, MD; Karan Dua, MD; Scott H. Kozin, MD; Martin J. Herman, MD


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020;28(1):e9-e19. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Lateral condyle fractures of the humerus are the second most common fracture about the elbow in children. The injury typically occurs as a result of a varus- or valgus-applied force to the forearm with the elbow in extension. Plain radiographs are sufficient in making the diagnosis; however, an elbow arthrogram permits optimal visualization of the articular surface in minimally displaced fractures. Traditionally, nonsurgical management is indicated for fractures with ≤2 mm of displacement and a congruent articular surface. Closed reduction and percutaneous pinning is performed for fractures with >2 mm of displacement with an intact cartilaginous hinge at the articular surface. Open reduction and internal fixation is often necessary for fractures with ≥4 mm of displacement or if there is articular incongruity. Complications include malunion, delayed presentation, fishtail deformity, lateral spurring, and growth arrest. Evolving management concepts include relative indications for surgical management, the optimal pin configuration, and the use of cannulated screw and bioresorbable fixation.