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.
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