LA hospital develops new method for treating broken femurs in children

Claire Wallace -  

A team of physicians at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is modernizing the treatment of broken femurs in children by eliminating the need for surgically placed spica casts. 

The team found that functional braces could provide just as much healing as a spica cast, also known as a body cast, in children, but are less cumbersome and easier to care for. 

The braces also reduce the need for anesthesia in children. 

The team is led by Lindsay Andras, MD, vice chief of the Jackie and Gene Autry Orthopedic Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. 

"We're very excited," Dr. Andras said in a July 19 press release. "A hatred of spica casts is pretty universal in pediatric orthopedics. We think the braces are going to be a total game-changer."

Researchers in Chicago discovered in 2016 that a leg brace is as effective as a cast for healing femur fractures, but the braces had to be custom made to each child, making them costly and the lead times on production slow. 

In 2019, Dr. Andras started enrolling patients in a trial to test standard sized braces that are fitted to each child instead of custom made ones. 

There were 34 children in the study who wore standard sized braces, and 29 with traditional casts. After six weeks, all fractures had successfully healed. Dr. Andras presented the results at the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America Annual Meeting in May. 

"We are still collecting data, but we feel confident that the standardized functional brace achieves equivalent fracture healing outcomes to the spica cast," Dr. Andras said in the release.

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