Treatment options in pediatric femoral shaft fractures

J Orthop Trauma. Nov-Dec 2005;19(10):724-33. doi: 10.1097/


Fracture of the femur in a pediatric patient presents special problems, and a variety of treatment options. Child abuse and neglect should be considered and evaluated. Fractures in infants (0-18 months) may be treated successfully in a Pavlik Harness. Spica casting is safe and effective in children up to about 6 years or 100 pounds, although complications can occur and careful attention to technique is important. Surgical treatment is superior in most older or larger children or adolescents, and in cases of multiple trauma, soft tissue injury, obesity or head injury. External fixation is minimally invasive, but carries a risk of malunion and refracture. Rigid antegrade intramedully nailing is possible in adolescents of acceptable size, but has a risk of avascular necrosis. Flexible nailing is minimally invasive and well suited to fractures of the central 2/3 of the diaphysis. In comminuted fractures, it may require supplemental external support. Plate fixation is stable and addresses the entire length of the femur. Soft tissue concerns due to surgical exposure can be minimized by the use of submuscular placement technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Nails*
  • Bone Plates*
  • Bone Screws*
  • Casts, Surgical
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Femoral Fractures / therapy*
  • Fracture Fixation / instrumentation*
  • Fracture Fixation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Traction / methods*