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Orthopedics. 1997 Dec;20(12):1131-6.

Isolated closed diaphyseal fractures of the femur in children: comparison of effectiveness and cost of several treatment methods.

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  • 1Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, 55905, USA.


The effectiveness of several treatment modalities for isolated closed femur fractures in children ages 4 through 16 years is compared based on outcome (clinical results, morbidity, and parents' satisfaction) and cost. Between 1986 and 1993, 30 patients were treated. Treatment methods included immediate hip spica cast application, distal femoral skeletal traction pin to align the fracture followed by early hip spica cast incorporating the pin (6th day), in-hospital traction, primary external fixation, and primary intramedullary nailing. Average follow up was 4.1 years. Overall results were excellent with minimal morbidity for all treatment methods. Early application of hip spica cast with or without incorporation of the distal femoral traction pin required the fewest hospital days, the shortest time to union, and had the lowest overall cost. Complications, mainly malunion and femoral length discrepancy, however, were greater. Skeletal traction resulted in the longest hospital stay and was equal in cost to external fixation and intramedullary nailing. Primary external fixation appears most applicable in patients who are unlikely to tolerate early casting and who are at increased risk of avascular necrosis with femoral nailing. Patients treated with an intramedullary nail had the fewest complications. Age, size, and gender of patient, location and type of fracture, as well as social circumstances are all significant factors in choosing the optimal method of treatment.

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