Femur fracture immobilization with traction splints in multisystem trauma patients

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2003 Apr-Jun;7(2):241-3. doi: 10.1080/10903120390936860.


Objective: To evaluate the frequency of concomitant injuries that can complicate and/or contraindicate the use of traction splints (TSs) for femur fracture immobilization (FFI) in a population of multisystem trauma patients.

Methods: This was a descriptive, prospective study utilizing a data collection tool to identify patients with multisystem trauma for which a TS was in place for FFI. Patient care records and follow-up diagnoses were reviewed to identify patients with positive femur fracture(s) who concurrently had injuries that can complicate and/or contraindicate TS use. Injuries considered to complicate or contraindicate traction splint use include 1) pelvic injury, 2) patellar fracture or ligamentous knee injury, and 3) tibia/fibula fracture.

Results: Forty patients were identified as having a TS in place with an underlying diagnosis of multisystem trauma. All 40 had follow-up diagnosis information available, 39 of which were positive for femur fracture on the side of the extremity on which the splint was placed, or bilaterally. The incidence of complicating and/or contraindicating injuries was 38%.

Conclusion: Traction splints are commonly used in the prehospital and transport setting for immobilization of femur fractures. There are limited data available on the benefit of traction splint use for femur fracture in the prehospital or transport environment. This study identified that concomitant injuries that complicate and/or contraindicate traction splint use are common.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Ambulances*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contraindications
  • Data Collection
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Treatment / methods*
  • Femoral Fractures / complications*
  • Femoral Fractures / epidemiology
  • Femoral Fractures / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immobilization*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / complications*
  • Multiple Trauma / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Splints* / adverse effects
  • Traction* / adverse effects
  • United States / epidemiology