What Is a Supracondylar Fracture

A Supracondylar Fracture: What Is a Supracondylar Fracture?

Supracondylitis means “above the collarbone”. When it occurs in one part of body, it is called supraoccipital fracture. It is the most common type of skull fracture and the second most common type of skull fracture after cranial trauma.

The word “supra” comes from the Latin words for above or higher. So when it refers to the top of your head, then it’s referred to as supraoccipital fracture. When it refers to the bottom of your head, then it’s referred to as suboccipital fracture.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Supracondylar Fracture?

Symptoms of a supraoccipital fracture include:

A sudden feeling of dizziness (vertigo)

Difficulty seeing (mydriasis) or blurry vision. You may have double vision. This is because your eye sockets are closer together than they would normally be. Your eyes will look like two peas in a pod instead of three pea pods. You might see things out of focus and not be able to tell what is real and what isn’t.

Nausea and vomiting

A headache

Ear pain or fullness

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Hearing loss

A scalp laceration may be seen at the site of injury. There may also be oozing of blood from your ears or nose.

What Are The Types Of Supracondylar Fractures?

There are several types of supraoccipital fractures. These include:

1.Anterior. This means that the broken pieces are in the front of your skull.

2.Posterior. This means that the broken pieces are on the back of your skull.

3.Unilateral. This means that only one side of your skull is broken.

4. Bilateral. This means that both sides of your skull are broken.

What Are The Possible Complications Of A Supracondylar Fracture?

The complications of a supraoccipital fracture can be quite serious. These include:

Loss of consciousness

Concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Skull Fracture

Open Head Injury

Hematoma or Bleeding in the Brain

Neck or Spinal Cord Injury

How Is A Supracondylar Fracture Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical and family history and whether or not you’ve had head or brain injury in the past. You’ll be asked to describe the incident that caused the injury and how you’re feeling currently.

Your doctor will then do a complete physical exam. This includes looking at your skull for any obvious fractures. Your doctor may also do blood work, an MRI or other tests to rule out more serious causes of your symptoms.

How Is A Supracondylar Fracture Treated?

Your doctor will look at the type of fracture you have and decide if you need to be seen by a neurosurgeon or not. If there is no significant displacement of bone fragments then your doctor may simply apply external fixation to stabilize the injury. If there is significant displacement then your doctor may refer you to one. A neurosurgeon will most likely do spinal fusion surgery or a cranioplasty in an effort to stabilize your injury. Other skull wiring techniques may also be used.

How Can I Care For A Supracondylar Fracture At Home?

If you have a simple fixable fracture then you can take the following steps to help with healing and prevent complications:


The very best thing you can do for any broken bone is REST. This means no work, no school, not any heavy lifting, and no motorcycles. You’ll need someone to drive you to and from your doctors for checkups.


Apply ice packs to the area of your injury at least twice daily for 10 minutes at a time. This will help with pain and swelling. Don’t place the ice pack on your skin directly, always use a cloth or some type of fabric between the ice and your skin.


Hold any swollen areas of your body elevated above the level of your heart as much as you can. This will help prevent fluid from building up in your injured area. This is especially important right after you injure yourself and while you’re sleeping.

Take Medications

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication. Don’t wait until the pain is severe before taking these medications. This will help prevent complications caused by not taking them.

Rest & Recovery

The most important thing you can do for a broken bone is to rest and give it time to heal. Depending on the type of injury and how bad it is, your recovery period can be as short as 6 weeks or as long as 3 months.

How Long Will It Take To Heal?

Healing time for a supraoccipital fracture will vary significantly based on many factors. These include your age, your overall health, the type of injury, and the technique used by your surgeon. The average healing time for a supraoccipital fracture is 6 weeks to 3 months. However, some people heal faster than this while others take much longer.

What Are The Complications?

A supraoccipital fracture and the treatment for it can result in a number of complications, some more severe than others. The most common complications are:

Incision site problems

Wired bone grafts can move over time and end up pressing on dura matter, the tissue that lines the inside of your skull. This can result in brain swelling, headaches and even neurological issues if not treated immediately. Regular head and neck checkups can help prevent more serious complications.

Nerve damage

Any type of head trauma can result in damaged to the nerves that control things like facial movement and the ability to hear. This type of nerve damage is usually temporary but can be permanent in rare cases.


Any open wound, such as one from a surgery, is at risk of becoming infected. If this happens, you may need to use antibiotics and steroid medications to treat the infection.


The fusion of certain bones in your hands and feet can occur if they are subjected to repeated trauma. This can lead to webbing in between your fingers and toes as well as changes in the shape of those body parts. In most cases, this type of syndactyly is only seen in patients with a history of broken fingers and toes.

Sources & references used in this article:

Supracondylar fracture of the femur after total knee arthroplasty. by KD Merkel, EW Johnson Jr – JBJS, 1986 – journals.lww.com

Supracondylar fracture of the femur following prosthetic knee arthroplasty by RW Culp, RG Schmidt, G Hanks, A Mak… – Clinical Orthopaedics …, 1987 – journals.lww.com

Supracondylar fracture of the adult femur: a study of one hundred and ten cases by II CHARLES S NEER, SA Grantham, ML SHELTON – JBJS, 1967 – journals.lww.com

The results of treatment of supracondylar fracture above total knee arthroplasty by MP Figgie, VM Goldberg, HE Figgie III… – The Journal of arthroplasty, 1990 – Elsevier

The Toronto experience with the supracondylar fracture of the femur, 1966–1972 by J Schatzker, G Horne, J Waddell – Injury, 1974 – injuryjournal.com

Supracondylar fracture of the humerus in children. by EE Palmer, KM Niemann, D Vesely, JH Armstrong – JBJS, 1978 – journals.lww.com

A selective treatment approach to supracondylar fracture of the humerus in children by AT Hadlow, P Devane, RO Nicol – Journal of Pediatric …, 1996 – journals.lww.com

Pulseless arm in association with totally displaced supracondylar fracture by PL Schoenecker, E Delgado, M Rotman… – … of orthopaedic trauma, 1996 – journals.lww.com

Cubitus varus deformity following supracondylar fractures of the humerus in children. by H Labelle, WP Bunnell, M Duhaime… – Journal of pediatric …, 1982 – europepmc.org