National trends in the treatment of femur fractures in the preschool population: Age and geography play a role

Konstantin Brnjoš, David K. Lyons, Max J. Hyman, Neeraj M. Patel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spica casting and elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) are options for diaphyseal femur fractures in preschool-age children (ages 3-6 years). Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are only of moderate or limited strength, which may lead to variation in practice. The purpose of this study is to analyze the epidemiology of children undergoing these procedures in the United States. Methods: The Pediatric Health Information System, a national database consisting of 49 children's hospitals, was queried for patients between the ages of 3 and 6 years undergoing spica casting or ESIN for a diaphyseal femur fracture between 2011 and 2017. Non-diaphyseal fractures, subjects with associated syndromes or neuromuscular disorders, and pathologic fractures were excluded. Census guidelines were used to categorize hospitals geographically into regions and divisions. Univariate analysis was followed by purposeful entry multivariate regression to adjust for confounders. Results: Analysis included 4059 subjects. Spica casting was performed in 2878 children (71%) and ESIN in 1181 (29%). The median age of those undergoing spica casting was 3.0 years [interquartile range (IQR) 1 year] compared to 5.0 years for ESIN (IQR 2 years; p<0.01). When adjusting for covariates in a multivariate model, each year of increasing age resulted in 4.4 times higher odds that ESIN would be performed (95% CI 4.0-4.8, p<0.01). Compared to the Northeast, a child in the Midwest had 3.6 times higher odds of undergoing ESIN rather than spica casting (95% CI 2.6-5.1, p<0.01). Age at time of ESIN was lowest in the Midwest and highest in the Northeast (4.8±1.0 versus 5.3±0.9 years; p<0.01). There was no variation in the ratio of spica casting to ESIN performed in this age group between 2011 and 2017, including after release of the 2015 CPG. Conclusions: In the United States, there is substantial variation in the chosen treatment for diaphyseal femur fractures in preschool-age children. ESIN is more likely to be chosen for older children. It is also most likely to be performed in the Midwest and least likely in the Northeast. These findings may have implications in terms of cost and resource utilization and suggest the need for more clinical data to guide surgical indications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1766-1770
Number of pages5
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Elastic stable intramedullary nailing
  • Femur fracture
  • Flexible nailing
  • Preschool
  • Spica casting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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