Background: The purpose of this study was to
evaluate the perioperative complication rates associated with early surgical
treatment (eight hours or less following injury) and delayed surgical
treatment (more than eight hours following injury) of displaced
supracondylar humeral fractures in children.
Methods: Fifty-two patients had early surgical treatment
and 146 patients had delayed surgical treatment of a displaced supracondylar
humeral fracture. The perioperative complication rates of the two
groups were compared with the use of bivariate and multivariate
Results: There was no significant difference between
the two groups with respect to the need for conversion to formal
open reduction and internal fixation (p = 0.56), pin-track
infection (p = 0.12), or iatrogenic nerve injury (p = 0.72).
No compartment syndromes occurred in either group. Power analysis revealed
that our study had an 86% power to detect a 20% difference
between the two groups if one existed.
Conclusions: We were unable to identify any significant
difference, with regard to perioperative complication rates, between
early and delayed treatment of displaced supracondylar humeral fractures.
Within the parameters outlined in our study, we think that the timing
of surgical intervention can be either early or delayed as deemed
appropriate by the surgeon.