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Orthopedics. 2010 Jan;33(1):19. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20091124-08.

Use of the Gartland classification system for treatment of pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures.

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Department of Orthopedics, Stony Brook University Hospital, HSC T-18, Room 089, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8181, USA.


The extension-type pediatric supracondylar humerus fracture accounts for nearly two-thirds of all pediatric hospitalizations due to elbow trauma. The Gartland classification guides the standard of care for treatment of this entity. Type I injuries are treated with cast immobilization while type II and III injuries are treated operatively. The reported interobserver reliability ranges from moderate to full agreement, which is on par with other frequently referenced classification systems such as Lauge-Hansen for adult ankle fractures. In this study, 4 fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeons reviewed radiographs of 72 pediatric supracondylar fractures and classified them based on Gartland's system. They recommended their preferred treatment of cast immobilization for type I fractures and of closed reduction and pinning in the operating room for type II and type III fractures. The interobserver and intraobserver reliability for each set of radiographs was then analyzed. There was moderate agreement comparing all fractures and comparing types I and II fractures, while there was full agreement for type III fractures. There was full agreement for the intraobserver reliability. The preferred treatment (casting vs operative intervention) differed in 35% of patients, if based on the fracture classification.

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