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Supracondylar humerus fractures in low- and lower middle-income countries: a scoping review of the current epidemiology, treatment modalities and outcomes

  • Author(s): Challa, Sravya
  • Agarwal-Harding, Kiran J.
  • Levy, Paul
  • Barr-Walker, Jill
  • Sabatini, Coleen S.
  • et al.

Background: The purpose of this scoping review was to examine the nature and quality of research regarding pediatric supracondylar humerus (SCH) fractures in low and lower-middle income countries (LICs).  

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and African Journals Online on January 9, 2018 for studies of SCH fractures in LICs. Studies were categorized by geographic region, Gartland classification of included patients, and study design. We evaluated each study’s methodology and conclusions.

Results: Out of 1805 results, we analyzed 105 studies, most of which included Type 3 fractures only (66%). Many were conducted in South Asia (58%) and assessed treatment outcomes (78%). Most of the studies had level IV evidence (67%). Common limitations of research were small sample size (12%) and inadequate follow-up (6%). Epidemiological studies concluded that SCH fractures are more common among male children, are usually secondary to falls, and rarely present with nerve injuries. Most therapeutic studies reported outcomes of surgery (91%). Thirteen studies concluded that all-lateral versus cross-pinning techniques have similar outcomes. Seven studies reported preference for closed reduction over open reduction, when intraoperative fluoroscopy was available. Most common outcome measures were Flynn criteria (77%) and range of motion (53%). None of the papers looked at treatment costs.

Conclusions: Our data show a predominance of small level IV studies from LICs, with few studies of higher level of evidence. Many studies examined controversies with surgical technique, similar to studies performed in HICs. Few studies examined non-operative treatment, which is commonly the predominant treatment available for patients in LICs. Further investigation of common treatment modalities and outcomes for SCH fractures in LICs is needed.

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