Commonly known as the “thighbone,” the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the human body. This means that in order to fracture your femur, you would most likely have suffered an injury with direct blunt force to the thigh. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the top cause of femur fractures in the United States is motor vehicle accidents.
In addition to motor vehicle accidents, femur fractures often occur in elderly patients with osteoporosis. Falls from height are a common cause of femur fractures among healthy adults. Most femoral shaft fractures require surgery.
To learn more about femur fracture surgery or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia, a leading Beverly Hills orthopaedic surgeon, call us today. Our number is 310.430.1310.
Types of Femur Fractures
There are several distinct types of femur fractures. These include:
- Transverse fracture – a straight horizontal break along the shaft of the femur
- Oblique Fracture – an angled or diagonal break across the femoral shaft
- Spiral Fracture – a circular irregular break around the femoral shaft
- Comminuted Fracture – a fracture that has broken the femur into 3 or more parts
- Open fracture – the worst type of fracture where bone fragments stick out through the skin. This type of fracture requires emergency surgery to prevent infection and/or further trauma.
Diagnosing Femur Fractures
A femoral shaft fracture is not an overly difficult diagnosis for a physician to make. There is usually immediate, severe pain following a fracture of the femur. It will be difficult to apply any weight on the injured leg, and it may look bent or short compared to the uninjured leg. During your initial consultation with Dr. Ahluwalia, he will discuss your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis of a fractured femur. Some cases of fractured femur are emergency situations and may not allow time for all of the following:
Evaluation of Medical History – The details of the incident that caused the trauma to your leg will be helpful in diagnosing your injury. For example, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, details such as how fast you were going, if you were wearing a seatbelt or not, and whether you were the driver or the passenger are some of the important factors to share with Dr. Ahluwalia. It is also important to disclose any medical conditions you have or medications you’ve been taking.
Physical Examination – After reviewing your medical history, Dr. Ahluwalia will conduct a physical examination. He will assess your overall condition, but the main focus will be on the injured leg. There are several aspects he will consider:
- Bent, short, or twisted thigh
- Breaks in the skin
- Bony pieces that may be tenting or pushing through the skin
- Tightness of the skin and muscles around the thigh
- Sensation or movement in your leg and foot
Image Studies – Dr. Ahluwalia may also order imaging studies to confirm and/or rule out a broken bone. Common imaging tests include:
- X-rays – This is the most common way to evaluate a fracture because it provides clear images of the bone.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan – A CT scan can provide valuable information about the severity of the fracture, including images of hairline fractures that can be difficult to see on X-rays.
Femur Fracture Surgery Procedure
The technique used to repair your fractured femur will depend on several factors. These include the cause of fracture, the location, and the severity. Regardless of the technique used, Dr. Ahluwalia will:
- Prepare you for the procedure – General anesthesia is commonly used to sedate the patient after they have been appropriately positioned. The area is then cleaned and made sterile before making an incision.
- Access the femur – Dr. Ahluwalia will make an incision on the thigh to access the underlying femur.
- Repair the femur – Dr. Ahluwalia may use special metal devices called internal fixators to reduce the fracture after opening the femur. This process is called Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF). Screws, plates, and/or rods may also be used to repair the femur and/or hold it in place.
- Complete the surgery – Following repair of the femur, Dr. Ahluwalia will close the incision with surgical staples or sutures and apply a bandage to the leg.
After surgery you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored until the effects of the anesthesia wear off.
What to Expect After Femur Fracture Surgery
Following femur fracture fixation you are likely to require a hospital stay of several days. You will be prescribed medication, which may include pain killers, anticoagulants, and antibiotics. It is important to follow instructions and complete the entire course of medications prescribed to you. You will have a follow up with Dr. Ahluwalia 7-10 days after your surgery. During this visit, further physical therapy and activity restrictions will be discussed.
To find out more about broken femur surgery, contact Dr. Ahluwalia today.