Atrophic non-union with severe osteolysis of the radius in a healthy child: successful rescue surgery. Management with fibular allograft and autograft growth factors in a paediatric patient

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Background. Forearm fractures are the most frequent fractures in children and adolescents and they are more common in males than in females. In the last 20 years the increase of surgical indications have resulted in more complications, among them the non-unions, considered extremely rare and severe in children, have increased in incidence. We report a successful treatment of misdiagnosed forearm atrophic non-union with severe osteolysis using fibula allograft and autograft growth factors in a previously healthy 4-year-old child.

Clinical case. A 4 year-old boy presented to our hospital with massive bone loss and a negative bone biopsy for Gorham-Stout Syndrome, he also showed reactive bone tissue with abnormal vascularity, necrotic osteocartilaginous fragments and giant mononucleated cells. Other lab tests did not show any modifications, so all the causes of paediatric osteolysis were ruled out. He had already undergone a few surgeries on that fracture and we performed others before achieving a good result, obtained with an autologous fibula graft with medullary growth factors stabilized with Kirschner wire. At the follow up 28 months later, the patient showed total consolidation of the initial area of non- union, no neurovascular deficit and no joint deficiency.

Discussion. Non-union in paediatric patients is rare and therefore difficult to treat and diagnose. Since all of our tests ruled out the main causes of paediatric non-union, we managed the case with strategies usually applied to adult patients, carefully respecting the growth plates.

Conclusion. Although this is a single-case report, it underlines the importance of early diagnosis, the difficulty to rule out some pediatric causes of bone loss and the complicances of a wrong diagnosis/treatment. It also shows that the use of allograft bone and autograft growth factors in a pediatric patient, who has undergone multiple surgeries, can lead to excellent results

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About the authors

Daniele Priano

University of Milan

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5123-4478

Italy, Milano

MD, Resident

Mario D'Errico

University of Milan

Author for correspondence.

Russian Federation, Milano

MD, Resident

Laura Peretto

G. Pini Institute

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5664-3687

Russian Federation, Milano

MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Department of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery

Antonio Memeo

G. Pini Institute


Russian Federation, Milano

MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Chief of Department of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files Action
Figure: 1. Re-fracture after 3 months.

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Figure: 2. On the X-ray there are minor signs of bone consolidation, but the metal was removed and the forearm was immobilized with a new plaster cast

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Figure: 3. In the area of fractures - signs of local bone resorption

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Figure: 4. X-ray before and after tissue excision, autologous fibula with bone marrow growth factors, autograft stabilized with intramedullary Kirschner wire

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Figure: 5. Absence of consolidation of the autologous fibula on the radiograph

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Figure: 6. Radiograph after sanitation of the nonunion focus and cadaveric bone graft with bone marrow growth factor stabilized with Kirschner wires

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Figure: 7. X-ray after removal of the Kirschner wire after 28 months. after injury

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Figure: 8. The clinical picture after 28 months. after injury

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Copyright (c) 2021 Priano D., D'Errico M., Peretto L., Memeo A.

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