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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2011 May;93(5):689-94. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.93B5.25422.

The effect of percutaneous pin fixation in the treatment of distal femoral physeal fractures.

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Red Cross Children's Hospital, Maitland Cottage Paediatric Orthopaedic Hospital, South Africa.


Distal femoral physeal fractures in children have a high incidence of physeal arrest, occurring in a mean of 40% of cases. The underlying nature of the distal femoral physis may be the primary cause, but other factors have been postulated to contribute to the formation of a physeal bar. The purpose of this study was to assess the significance of contributing factors to physeal bar formation, in particular the use of percutaneous pins across the physis. We reviewed 55 patients with a median age of ten years (3 to 13), who had sustained displaced distal femoral physeal fractures. Most (40 of 55) were treated with percutaneous pinning after reduction, four were treated with screws and 11 with plaster. A total of 40 patients were assessed clinically and radiologically after skeletal maturity or at the time of formation of a bar. The remaining 15 were followed up for a minimum of two years. Formation of a physeal bar occurred in 12 (21.8%) patients, with the rate rising to 30.6% in patients with high-energy injuries compared with 5.3% in those with low-energy injuries. There was a significant trend for physeal arrest according to increasing severity using the Salter-Harris classification. Percutaneous smooth pins across the physis were not statistically associated with growth arrest.

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