Brachial Artery Injuries in Children


Treatment of brachial artery injuries in children, particularly those resulting from supracondylar humeral fractures, is controversial when distal pulses are absent yet the hand remains warm and pink. This article presents a retrospective study of eight children, ages 3 to 13, who underwent brachial arterial exploration because of absent distal pulses following arm trauma. Absent pulses indicate diminished blood flow, and in all eight cases brachial artery obstruction or severance was confirmed at surgery. In four of the children, who presented with cold, devascularized hands as a result of posterior elbow dislocations, supracondylar humeral fracture, or dog bites, there is no debate regarding revascularization. The other four children, with type III supracondylar humerus fractures, had pulseless, pink hands as a result of brachial artery thrombosis or arterial tethering. Brachial artery flow was reestablished in all cases with return of distal pulses, and no vascular complications. The authors believe that artery exploration is indicated when distal pulses are not present. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 22(2):105–112,2013)

Aaron Snyder, MD, and John C. Crick, MD