Distal Femur fractures

The femur or thigh bone is the longest and strongest bone in the body, connecting the hip to the knee. Distal femur fracture refers to fracture of the femur just above the knee joint. Distal femur fracture is less common than other types of femoral fractures affecting mostly elderly individuals. Sometimes it can also occur in younger individuals as a result of high energy injuries.

The distal femur is the lower part of the thigh bone which flares out like an upside-down funnel and its lower end is covered by a smooth, slippery articular cartilage that protects and cushions the bone during movement. Fracture of the distal femur may involve the cartilaginous surface of the knee as well and result in arthritis.

Causes of Distal Femur Fractures

Distal femur fracture may be caused by high energy injuries such as a fall from height or a motor vehicle accident. Patients with osteoporosis, bone tumor or infections, or a history of knee replacement are more prone to distal femur fractures. In the elderly, even a simple fall from a standing position may result in a fracture as the bones tend to become weak and fragile with advancing age.

Symptoms of Distal Femur Fractures

Sudden, severe pain along with swelling and bruising are the predominant symptoms of distal femur fracture. The site is tender to touch with a visible physical deformity and shortening of the leg.

Diagnosis of Distal Femur Fractures

The diagnosis of femur fracture is based on the patient’s medical history including history of any previous injuries, complete physical examination and imaging studies. The physician will evaluate the soft tissue around the joint to identify any signs of nerve or blood vessel injury. Multiple X-rays and other imaging studies such as CT and MRI scans may be used to identify the location and severity of the fracture.

Treatment of Distal Femur Fractures

The management of the fracture is based on the severity of the fracture, medical condition of the patient and the patient’s lifestyle.

Non-surgical treatment comprises of immobilizing the fractured site with the help of casts or braces to prevent weight bearing and to help the healing process. X-rays are taken at regular intervals to assess the healing process. Weight bearing and movement are initiated gradually, depending on the nature of the injury and the condition of the patient. In case of severely displaced fracture, surgical treatment may be necessary.