Treatment of femoral fractures in children aged two to six.

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DOI: 10.1302/0301-620X.102B8.BJJ-2019-1060.R3


AIMS: Current American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) guidelines for treating femoral fractures in children aged two to six years recommend early spica casting although some individuals have recommended intramedullary stabilization in this age group. The purpose of this study was to compare the treatment and family burden of care of spica casting and flexible intramedullary nailing in this age group.

METHODS: Patients aged two to six years old with acute, non-pathological femur fractures were prospectively enrolled at one of three tertiary children's hospitals. Either early closed reduction with spica cast application or flexible intramedullary nailing was accomplished under general anaesthesia. The treatment method was selected after discussion of the options by the surgeon with the family. Data were prospectively collected on patient demographics, fracture characteristics, complications, pain medication, and union. The Impact on Family Scale was obtained at the six-week follow-up visit. In all, 75 patients were included in the study: 39 in the spica group and 36 in the nailing group. The mean age of the spica group was 2.71 (2.0 to 6.9) years and the mean age of the nailing group was 3.16 (2.0 to 6.9) years.

RESULTS: All fractures healed without evidence of malunion or more than 2.0 cm of shortening. The mean Impact on Family score was 70.2 for the spica group and 63.2 (55 to 99) for the nailing group, a statistically significant difference (p = 0.024) in a univariate analysis suggesting less impairment of the family in the intramedullary nailing group. There was no significant difference between pain medication requirements in the first 24 hours postoperatively. Two patients in the spica group and one patient in the intramedullary nailing group required additional treatment under anaesthesia.

CONCLUSION: Both early spica casting and intramedullary nailing were effective methods for treating femoral fractures in children two to six years of age. Intramedullary stabilization provides an option in this age group that may be advantageous in some social situations that depend on the child's mobility. Fracture treatment should be individualized based on factors that extend beyond anatomical and biological factors.

Journal Title

Bone Joint J





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Femur fracture; Flexible intramedullary nailing; Impact-on-Family Scale; Pediatric; Socioeconomic impact; Spica Casting

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