Young Kids With Hip, Thigh Fractures Heal Well With Single-Leg Casts

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Children with hip and thigh fractures heal just as well when they have a cast on one leg instead of both legs, a small new study finds.

A single-leg cast offers advantages such as greater comfort and mobility, said the researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

It has long been believed that casting both legs and hips was the only way to assure proper healing in young children with hip and thigh fractures.

In this study, the researchers looked at 52 patients, aged 2 to 6, who received either single-leg (24 patients) or double-leg (28 patients) casts. Children in both groups healed equally well without any major complications. Those in single-leg casts, however, had greater comfort and mobility, fit more easily into car seats, got dressed more easily and sat more comfortably in chairs.

The study also found that the parents and caregivers of children with single-leg casts missed an average of eight fewer days of work to provide care.

"The single-leg approach not only appears to be just as effective and safe as double-leg casting in terms of healing, but it also makes the child's life much easier and requires less complicated daily care," senior investigator Dr. Paul Sponseller, director of pediatric orthopedics at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said in a Hopkins news release.

The study was published online June 13 in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Surgery is the treatment of choice for hip and thigh fractures in older children, but patients younger than age 6 do better with casting only, the researchers said. The cast immobilizes the hips and thighs so bones or tendons can heal properly.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about thigh fractures in children.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, June 12, 2012

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