Femoral Shaft Fracture
What is a Femoral Shaft Fracture?
Just below the femoral neck is the femoral shaft. The femoral shaft connects the head and neck of the femur to the knee. A bone fracture in the long part of the femur is termed a femoral shaft fracture. Because of the length of the femoral shaft, there are numerous opportunities for complications.
Mechanism of Injury
A traumatic injury to the shaft of a femur, for example an auto accident, has the potential to cause a break to develop in the shaft of the femur. Fractures can range widely in severity and can be relatively small, such as the ones that result from a slip and fall injury, to complete breaks that often occur in more traumatic accidents. There are an endless number of accident types that can cause this femur fracture.
Treatment of a Femoral Shaft Fracture
The first step is always to stabilize the patient if they are unstable. Severe femur fractures can damage blood vessels and lead to a tremendous amount of blood loss. After this, the bones will be immobilized and imaging will take place to get a better idea of the size and location of a fracture. Once the bones have been put back into their proper location, the patient will typically be placed in a cast and the injury will be allowed to heal over several weeks.
Complications may Occur
There are numerous comorbidities that can develop with a femoral shaft fracture. One of the most common issues is a shortening of the length of a femur if the bones do not heal in perfect union. This can lead to one leg becoming shorter than the other, posing mobility and spinal cord issues in the future.
Other Structures are at Risk
While the nerves are at risk because they run down the femoral shaft, the blood vessels are also of notable concern. The femoral artery runs near the femoral shaft. If a fracture happens to slice this artery, the patient could bleed to death internally.
There are many different types of femur fractures that must be considered with a femoral shaft fracture. These include:
- Femoral head fracture
- Subtrochanteric fracture
- Femoral neck fracture
- Intertrochanteric Femur Fracture
- Hip fracture
If the femoral shaft only has a slight break in it, the injury could heal quickly without any complications. Larger fractures must be handled with a more guarded prognosis.
Surgery is Possible
This all depends on whether or not there are associated injuries or if the fracture is displaced. If the fracture is displaced, surgery is required.
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Image Source: shown with permission from Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY version 3.0 SA License.
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