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Leg Fracture In Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A leg fracture is a break in any of the 3 long bones of your child's leg. The femur is the largest bone and goes from your child's hip to his knee. The fibula and tibia are the 2 bones in your child's lower leg that go from his knee to his ankle. Your child may have a Salter-Harris fracture, which is when a bone breaks through a growth plate.


WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine: Your child may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse.
  • Tetanus shot: This is medicine to keep your child from getting tetanus if the fracture has an open wound. Your child should have a tetanus shot if he has not had one in the past 5 to 10 years.

Tests:

  • X-rays: This is a picture taken to check your child's leg for broken bones.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's leg. The pictures may show broken bones or other leg injuries. Your child may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if he has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's leg. An MRI may show a fracture or other leg injuries. Your child may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.

Treatment:

  • Cast: A cast may be put on your child's leg to keep the bones from moving and to decrease pain. A hip spica cast may be needed if your child had leg surgery. A hip spica cast usually goes from your child's hips down to the ankles. A caregiver will teach you how your child will use the bathroom and take a bath. You will learn how to clean the cast and keep it dry. You will also learn how to move and dress your child. Tell a caregiver if your child's toes become swollen, cold, numb, pale, or blue.
  • Surgery: Surgery is often a treatment for leg fractures. Caregivers will make an incision on your child's leg to line up the broken pieces of bone. Wires, screws, or metal plates may be used to hold the fractured bones in place.
  • Traction: Your child may need traction when his bones are broken or out of place. Traction pulls on the bones to pull them back into place. A pin may be put in your child's bone or cast and hooked to ropes and a pulley. Weight is hung on the rope to help pull on the bones so they will heal correctly.

RISKS:

If left untreated, your child may have increased pain and swelling. This may cause further injury to his leg. Your child may have bleeding or an infection, especially if his fracture was caused by trauma. His bones may not heal properly after surgery and his legs may not be the same length. Muscle weakness may happen after surgery. Your child is at risk of developing a fat emboli. This is when fat is forced out of the inside of the bone and travels to other parts of his body. It can block blood flow to his lungs, brain, or heart. This is a serious and life-threatening condition.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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