The thighbone (femur) is the largest and strongest bone in the body. It can break when a child experiences a sudden forceful impact.
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.
Events with the highest risk for pediatric femur fractures include:
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:
A thighbone fracture is a serious injury. It may be obvious that the thighbone is fractured because:
Take your child to the emergency room right away if you think he or she has a broken thighbone.
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.
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.