The fracture of the femur is a very common injury and usually affects the elderly population. It is estimated that in the United States alone, 300000 elderly suffer from fractures and need to be hospitalized. Studies have shown that mortality rates associated with neck femur fractures is highest among the age group of 80 years and above and majority of these patients are females.
Femur fractures are classified into four categories, depending upon the location of the fracture.
- Femoral head fracture is associated with high impact trauma causing dislocation and fracture of the femoral head.
- Femoral neck fracture, more common among the elderly, is a fracture at the junction of the femoral head and greater trochanter (It is an anatomical name given to bony prominence on the outer aspect of the neck of femur). The femur head fracture is also referred to as ‘fracture of necessity’ by medical professionals, since this type of fracture needs to be operated to improve the life expectancy. This type of fracture is further classified into four sub-categories depending upon the extent of damage.
- Intertrochanteric fracture is associated with fracture between the greater and lesser trochanter.
- Sub trochanteric fracture is associated with fracture of the shaft of the femur.
Complications Of Femur Fracture
Femur fractures can be associated with a host of complications, the severity of which usually depends upon the overall health condition and age of the patient. Some of the common complications include,
- Nonunion of the fracture can lead to deformities and affect the gait of the individual. Nonunion is more common among untreated fractures of the femur.
- Thromboembolism (formation of a clot in vessel) is one of the most severe complications of femur fracture and can lead to sudden death. The emboli may get logged into the brain, lung or heart resulting in immediate death. This is a high risk factor especially among the elderly age group.
- Infection is another common complication associated with the fracture of femur. Strong antibiotics are usually prescribed to prevent infection.
- Puncturing of the femoral artery can lead to heavy blood loss and subsequent death. The femoral artery is very closely entwined around the femur and hence is at high risk of a puncture injury from the bone splinters.
First Aid Treatment For Fractured Femur
The first aid treatment usually focuses on acute management of the patient prior to hospitalization following a fall or fracture of the femur. Some important guidelines include,
- Make the patient lie down immediately. Immobilization is important so as to prevent potential emboli from entering into the blood stream. Further immobilization is also essential to prevent further damage to surrounding organs including femoral artery and femoral nerve.
- Tie a long wooden stick around the femur, to prevent the movement of the fractured bone. This will prevent the bone from forming splinters and also reduce the risk of emboli.
- Clean the wound, if any. If you observe the bone jutting out of the skin, don’t try to push it back inside. This is a complicated fracture and attempting to push it back can increase the risk of damage to other surrounding organs. Call the ambulance immediately and wait for the paramedics to give you subsequent instructions.
How To Fix A Broken Femur Bone?
Surgical intervention is inevitable in most cases of femur fracture. The surgery includes use of prosthesis, screws and pins to fix the broken bone. Subsequent treatment includes rest and gradual mobilization using physiotherapy, to normalize the patient’s joint movements. In some cases, lifelong use of walking sticks or crutches may be required.