Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


Can you explain something to me? Our four-year-old had surgery to pin his elbow. He broke it when he fell off the swingset at the park. There was a piece of bone that shattered and one that detached from the lower part of his humerus. I saw the X-rays after surgery and didn't see any pins at all -- just wires criss-crossing the breaks. Did they have to use wires instead of pins because it was such a mess inside?


Pin fixation is a general term used to describe any method used to hold bone fragments together during the healing process. Words such as pin, nail, or hardware refer to devices such as plates, screws, wires, and pins used to hold the pieces of bone to the main bone. The hardware remains until the body can fill in and around the break with new bone. Sometimes it's not removed at all but left in to avoid disrupting the bone a second time. Wire can be the easiest method to use when there are a number of fragments to hold together. In a small child with tiny bones, thin wire also makes the most sense. There simply isn't enough bone or room for large screws or plates. When you take your son in for a follow-up appointment, ask the surgeon this question. There may be other details related to your child that you will find interesting. Bronwyn L. Slobogean, PA-C, et al. Iatrogenic Ulnar Nerve Injury After the Surgical Treatment of Displaced Supracondylar Fractures of the Humerus: Number Needed to Harm, A Systematic Review. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. July/August 2007. Vol. 30. No. 5. Pp. 430-436.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Our Specialties

Where Does It Hurt?

Our Locations

  Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on YouTube
Follow us on Twitter