Key words Femur
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract From 1988 to 1996, 121 femoral shaft fractures in children were treated by external fixation. The average age was 8.4 years (range: 2 to 16 years). Thirty-three children sustained multiple injuries (27%), and 13 children had 2nd- or 3rd-degree open fractures (10.7%). This study not only analyzes the expenditure of the operation and the corresponding follow-up period, but also the complications and the final results. The average operation time was 1 h (range: 0.2 to 2.8 h). The infection rate was 6.6%. Removal of the external fixator war carried out in 35.5% of the cases on an outpatient basis. Refractures were noted in 7 cases (5.8%). The time of consolidation was 55.3 days on average (range: 36 to 94 days) and depended on the fracture type as well as on the fixator type. By using the dynamic fixation models the consoldation time could be reduced to 46 days in comparison to the stiff AO fixation models with a mean consolidation time of 68 days. Oblique and transverse fractures showed an average healing time of 54 days. Complications such as refractures, infections, delayed unions and changes in therapy mainly occurred after oblique fractures. The average follow-up time was 32±18.7 months (range: 24 to 64 months). The extent of leg length differences, on average 1.3 cm, depended on the delay of surgical intervention. There was no clinical evidence of malangulation (by definition 〉 20°). The results do not differ from other operative procedures. The external fixator proved to be a valuable method for the treatment of pediatric femoral shaft fractures: hospital stay is reduced and full weight bearing can be achieved early. However, transverse fractures, which showed the highest complication rate, should be treated by intramedullary nailing.
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