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Spica Casting for Pediatric Femoral Fractures: A Prospective, Randomized Controlled Study of Single-Leg Versus Double-Leg Spica Casts

Leu, Dirk MD; Sargent, M. Catherine MD; Ain, Michael C. MD; Leet, Arabella I. MD; Tis, John E. MD; Sponseller, Paul D. MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 18 July 2012 - Volume 94 - Issue 14 - p 1259–1264
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00966
Scientific Articles

Background: At many centers, double-leg spica casting is the treatment of choice for diaphyseal femoral fractures in children two to six years old. We hypothesized that such patients can be effectively treated with single-leg spica casting and that such treatment would result in easier care and better patient function during treatment.

Methods: In a prospective, randomized controlled study, fifty-two patients two to six years old with a diaphyseal femoral fracture were randomly assigned to be treated immediately (after consent was obtained) with a single-leg (twenty-four patients) or double-leg (twenty-eight patients) spica cast. Serial radiographs were evaluated for maintenance of fracture reduction with respect to limb length, varus/valgus angulation, and procurvatum/recurvatum angulation. After cast removal, the performance version of the Activities Scale for Kids questionnaire and a custom-written survey were administered to the parents so that they could evaluate the ease of care and function of the children during treatment. Means were compared between treatment groups with use of Student t tests. P values of <0.05 were considered significant.

Results: All limbs healed in satisfactory alignment. The children treated with a single-leg spica cast were more likely to fit into car seats (p < 0.05) and fit more comfortably into chairs (p < 0.05). Caregivers of patients treated with a single-leg cast took less time off work (p < 0.05). There were no major complications.

Conclusions: Treatment of pediatric femoral fractures with a single-leg spica cast is effective and safe, and postfracture patient care is facilitated.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

1c/o Elaine P. Henze, BJ, ELS, Medical Editor and Director, Editorial Services, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University/Johns Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, #A665, Baltimore, MD 21224-2780. E-mail address for P.D. Sponseller: ehenze1@jhmi.edu

2Shriners Hospital for Children-Honolulu, 1310 Punahou Street, Honolulu, HI 96826-1099

Copyright 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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