Background: Nearly all pediatric humeral shaft fractures can be successfully treated with closed methods. Some patients, however, require internal fixation either because of an inability to maintain an adequate reduction, significant soft tissue injury, or concomitant fractures. Methods: This is a retrospective review of all traumatic humeral shaft fractures treated at our hospitals between 1999 and 2006. Thirteen pediatric patients ranging in age from 4.8 to 16.7 years (mean age 12.0 years) were treated surgically with titanium elastic nails (TENs). Relative surgical indications included open fractures, inability to maintain an acceptable reduction, the presence of ipsilateral forearm fractures (floating elbow), concomitant lower extremity fractures, and closed head injury. Two patients had associated radial nerve injury at presentation. Results: The patients were followed for a mean of 29 months. All fractures healed in good alignment. There were no intraoperative complications, including neurologic or vascular injury, and no patient developed an infection postoperatively. Two patients had nail migration, one of whom developed nail protrusion through the skin. One patient with preoperative radial nerve injury ultimately underwent tendon transfer to restore wrist extension. Of the 13 patients, 12 reported a full return to sports and other activities with no limitations or discomfort. Conclusions: When surgical stabilization of pediatric humeral shaft fractures is indicated, TEN fixation is effective and has a high rate of union and a low rate of complications. This technique is familiar to most orthopaedic surgeons treating pediatric fractures. Level of evidence: Level of evidence: IV (case series).
- Elastic nails