Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


What's a supracondylar fracture? Mom just texted us that our little brother fell, broke his arm, and is having surgery for this.


A common fracture in young children is a supracondylar fracture of the humerus (upper arm bone). This fracture occurs most often around ages six to seven. Humeral fractures are named for the location of the break. A supracondylar fracture tells us the bone is broken at the lower end of the humerus above the elbow. It is generally caused by a fall on an outstretched hand. The force of the impact hyperextends the arm and translates enough force through the bone to cause a fracture above the elbow. The break goes all the way through the humerus. The two ends of the bone may become separated or displaced partially or completely. Surgery is needed to reduce and fix the fracture. Reduction refers to the process of putting the two displaced ends of the bone back together. The surgeon uses a special X-ray imaging technique called fluoroscopy to see the bone. This can be done without making an incision and opening up the arm. A pin or a special wire called Kirschner (K-wire) is used to hold it in place until healing occurs. Vojtech Havlas, MD, PhD, et al. Manipulation of Pediatric Supracondylar Fractures of Humerus in Prone Position Under General Anesthesia. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. September 2008. Vol. 28. No. 6. Pp. 660-664.

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