Physeal and periphyseal injuries of the hand. Patterns of injury and results of treatment

Hand Clin. 1994 May;10(2):287-301.


To the authors' knowledge, this is the largest study assembled of finger fractures in children. Distribution of fractures according to location within the hand (see Fig. 1), location within the phalanges themselves, and the percent of epiphyseal fractures as well as the age distribution of the patients are all similar to what has previously been presented in smaller studies. Previously unreported synchronous and double epiphyseal injuries were identified. For the most part, thanks to the remodeling capacity and rapid healing of children's bone, treatment is short and complications are few. Nevertheless, as in other locations, there is a limited capacity to remodel angular deformity and no capacity to remodel rotational deformity. The clinical information in our study conflicts somewhat with previously described anatomic information about the insertion of ligaments with respect to the growth plate. Bogumill and Hankin and Janda have suggested that the ligaments insert primarily on the epiphysis in the proximal phalanx, and on the epiphysis and metaphysis in the middle and distal phalanges. Taken by itself, this information would suggest that a Salter-Harris III mechanism would be relatively more common at the MP joint, and the Salter-Harris II and IV mechanism (where the proximal fragment includes bone both proximal and distal to the growth plate at the point where the ligament is attached) would be relatively more common at the more distal levels. In fact, the opposite was true. The Salter-Harris II mechanism made up an overwhelming majority of the percentage of injuries of the MP joint, whereas the Salter-Harris III mechanism predominated at the PIP joint and was relatively common at the DIP joint as well. This would seem to suggest that either the contribution of ligament insertion distal to the growth plate of the PIP and DIP joints is not functionally important or that other factors are involved in the injury mechanism at both levels and play a role in producing these injuries. Further study will be required, possibly involving experimental fracture production to help elucidate this issue. Finally, it is critical to recognize and properly treat the four major categories of injury that constitute a small percentage of the total but a large percentage of the complications. The condylar and subcondylar fractures must be identified by obtaining a true lateral film by whatever means necessary. If undisplaced, they need to be adequately immobilized, possibly including the entire arm of a small child, and if displaced, they almost always require internal fixation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finger Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Finger Injuries / therapy
  • Finger Joint*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / injuries*
  • Metacarpus / injuries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salter-Harris Fractures*
  • Thumb / injuries*