A Comparison of Fixation Methods in Adolescent Patients With Diaphyseal Forearm Fractures

Injury. 2018 Nov;49(11):2053-2057. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2018.08.023. Epub 2018 Aug 30.


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to compare both bone diaphyseal forearm fractures in adolescent patients treated with plate fixation to patients treated with intramedullary fixation to identify differences in complications and outcomes.

Materials & methods: A retrospective study was performed on all adolescent patients with age between 10 and16 year and treated with intramedullary fixation or plate fixation for a diaphyseal both bone forearm fracture between 2005 and 2014. Demographic information and clinical data was collected. Radiographs were reviewed to evaluate post-operative radial bow magnitude and location, time to union, and residual angulation. Complications were graded using the modified Clavien-Dindo Classification system.

Results: A total of 102 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 32 were treated with plate fixation and 70 with intramedullary fixation. The intramedullary nail group had 55% of complications classified as major. There were no major complications in the plate fixation group (P = 0.1). The radial bow was significantly more distal and smaller in magnitude in the intramedullary fixation group (P < 0.01). Of the patients who underwent intramedullary fixation, 76% required an open reduction of at least one forearm bone. There was increased time to radiographic union in patients treated with intramedullary fixation when compared to those treated with plates, 68 days versus 58 days (P = 0.03). A second operation was necessary for 91% of patients treated with intramedullary fixation compared to only 3% of patients treated with a plate (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Diaphyseal forearm fractures in adolescent patients remain challenging injuries to treat. Forearm bony anatomy is not completely restored with intramedullary fixation. Results suggested an association towards increased complication rates and complication severity with intramedullary fixation.

Level of evidence: Level 3 retrospective comparative study.

Keywords: Adolescent; Both-bone forearm fracture; Internal fixation; Intramedullary nailing; Open reduction; Pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Plates
  • Child
  • Diaphyses / diagnostic imaging
  • Diaphyses / surgery*
  • Female
  • Forearm Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Forearm Injuries / surgery*
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / methods*
  • Fracture Healing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiography
  • Radius Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Radius Fractures / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ulna Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Ulna Fractures / surgery*