Dr. Dharmapal G. K. The Best Orthopaedic Surgeon in Bengaluru

Thighbone-fractures-in-children-1

The thighbone (femur) is the largest and strongest bone in the body. It can break when a child experiences a sudden forceful impact.

Cause

Statistics

The most common cause of thighbone fractures in infants under 1 year old is child abuse. Child abuse is also a leading cause of thighbone fracture in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years, but the incidence is much less in this age group.

In adolescents, motor vehicle accidents (either in cars, bicycles, or as a pedestrian) are responsible for the vast majority of femoral shaft fractures.

Risk Factors

Events with the highest risk for pediatric femur fractures include:

  • Falling hard on the playground
  • Taking a hit in contact sports
  • Being in a motor vehicle accident
  • Child abuse

Types of Femur Fractures (Classification)

Femur fractures vary greatly. The pieces of bone may be aligned correctly (straight) or out of alignment (displaced), and the fracture may be closed (skin intact) or open (bone piercing through the skin). An open fracture is rare.

Specifically, thighbone fractures are classified depending on:

  • Location of fracture on the bone (proximal, middle, or distal third of the bone shaft)
  • Shape of the fractured ends — bones can break all kinds of ways, such as straight across (transverse), angled (oblique), or spiraled (spiral)
  • Position of the fractured edges (angulated or displaced)
  • Number of fractured parts
    • Two parts
    • Several fractured parts (comminuted)
femur fractures

Types of femur fractures.  (Left) An oblique, displaced fracture of the femur shaft. (Right) A comminuted fracture of the femur shaft.

Symptoms

A thighbone fracture is a serious injury. It may be obvious that the thighbone is fractured because:

  • Your child has severe pain
  • The thigh is noticeably swollen or deformed
  • Your child is unable to stand or walk, and/or
  • There is a limited range of motion of the hip or knee allowed by the child because of pain.

Take your child to the emergency room right away if you think he or she has a broken thighbone.

Doctor Examination

Physical Examination

It is important that the doctor know exactly how the injury occurred. Tell the doctor if your child had any disease or other trauma before it happened.

The doctor will give your child pain relief medication and carefully examine the leg, including the hip and knee. A child with a thighbone fracture should always be evaluated for other serious injuries.

Imaging Tests

Your orthopaedic doctor will need x-rays to see what the broken bone looks like (refer to “Classification”). Your child’s healthy leg may also be x-rayed for comparison.

The orthopaedic doctor will also check the x-ray for any damage to the growth area (growth plate) near the end of the femur. This is the part that enables the child’s bone to grow. If needed, surgery may help to restore the growth plate’s function, and regular x-rays may be taken for many months to track the bone’s growth.

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