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Evaluation and management of condylar elbow fractures in children

Leticia Manning Ryan, MD, MPH, FAAP
Section Editor
Richard G Bachur, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Lateral condylar elbow fractures account for 15 percent of elbow fractures in children [1-3]. Early recognition and proper management is essential to avoid elbow deformity and functional impairment. Medial condylar elbow fractures are rare but need to be differentiated from medial epicondylar fractures to ensure proper treatment [3,4]. Unlike supracondylar fractures, condylar elbow fractures rarely result in acute neurovascular compromise.

This review discusses the evaluation and management of condylar elbow fractures in children. The evaluation and management of supracondylar, epicondylar, and transphyseal elbow fractures are discussed separately. (See "Evaluation and management of supracondylar fractures in children" and "Epicondylar and transphyseal elbow fractures in children".)


Lateral condylar fractures account for up to 15 percent of all elbow fractures in children [1-3]. The peak age of injury is six years [5]. Medial condylar elbow fractures are rare (<1 percent of all elbow fractures in children) and typically occur in children older than eight years of age in whom the medial condylar epiphysis is seen radiographically [5].


The general anatomy of the elbow is discussed separately. (See "Elbow anatomy and radiographic diagnosis of elbow fracture in children", section on 'Pertinent anatomy'.)

The lateral and medial condyles of the elbow extend distally from the relatively weak supracondylar region (figure 1). Fracture through the lateral condyle can extend into the capitellum, disturbing the articulation with the radial head, or into the unossified trochlea, resulting in elbow instability (figure 2). Medial condylar elbow fractures are the mirror image of lateral condylar fractures with the fracture line typically ending in the trochlear notch (figure 3). When displacement of the medial condyle occurs, the elbow joint also becomes unstable.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 23, 2015.
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