Distal humerus physeal separation

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 22 Nov 2022

Distal humerus physeal separation is seen in children under 3 years and is often associated with non-accidental injury 1.

The child will usually present with a reduced range of motion with swelling and ecchymosis around the joint 2.

The injury can occur during vaginal delivery or Cesarean section with excessive traction or shear force. Rotational and twisting forces can also cause this separation, often associated with non-accidental injuries 1.

Radiographic diagnosis can be difficult if the capitellar ossification center is not present. If present, the ossification center should align with the radial shaft. X-ray findings would also note posteromedial displacement of the ulna and radius relative to the distal humerus.

Can be used for diagnosis by looking for separation of epiphysis from metaphysis 3.

Most fractures are displaced and managed with closed reduction and pinning. For delayed presentations non-operative treatment can be considered and treat the residual deformity at a later stage 2.

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