Open femur fractures in children: Treatment, complications, and results

Christopher M. Hutchins, Paul D. Sponseller, Peter Sturm, Ricardo Mosquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We evaluated retrospectively the treatment of 44 open femur fractures occurring between the lesser trochanter and the distal femoral physis in 43 children aged 16 years and younger. Fractures that involved the physis or that were a consequence of gunshot wounds were excluded. There were 25 grade I, 9 grade II, and 9 grade III fractures. The mean age at injury was 9.5 years. Ninety percent of the fractures were automobile related. More than 70% of the children had associated injuries. The average time to healing for all fractures in this study was 17 weeks. Our data indicate that there is a statistically significant increased time to heal with increasing age of the child (p = 0.04). Additionally, grade III fractures healed more slowly than grade I or II fractures (p = 0.0006). Fractures treated with external fixation took longer to unite than those treated with other methods (p = 0.05). The presence of complications increased the time to fracture union (p = 0.00001). Grade III injuries were the most difficult to manage; 50% of the fractures in this group developed osteomyelitis and 20% malunited. In contrast, none of the fractures in either the grade I or II groups developed deep infection. After aggressive debridement, grade I and grade II fractures may be stabilized with age-appropriate fixation methods. Grade III injuries should be managed with vigorous debridement and vigilance, as these injuries are prone to deep infection and malunion. The optimal method of skeletal stabilization in grade III fractures remains unresolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Femur fracture
  • Open fracture
  • Pediatric fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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