Early management of pathological fractures in children.
Jackson WFM., Theologis TN., Gibbons CLMH., Mathews S., Kambouroglou G.
The management of pathological fractures in children remains controversial. The indications for surgical treatment are unclear and the need for histological diagnosis before or after definitive treatment is not clearly defined. We reviewed retrospectively the records of all patients under the age of 16 years who presented over the past 7 years with a fracture as the first manifestation of bone pathology. There were 23 patients (16 boys and 7 girls) of an average age of 12 years and 2 months (range 4.1-15.8 years). There were nine cases of fracture through a simple bone cyst, five cases of fibrous dysplasia, two giant cell tumours, three aneurysmal bone cysts, one chondroblastoma, and three cases of Ewings sarcoma. After review of our cases we propose a simple algorithm for the safe early management and assessment of paediatric pathological fractures. We recommend that primary fixation of pathological fractures should be avoided until histological diagnosis is obtained. Most lesions should eventually be biopsied. However, if radiographic appearances are reassuringly benign, biopsy can be delayed until conservative fracture management is completed. Definitive treatment of benign lesions with protective intra medullary nailing or curettage and grafting can follow frozen section under the same anaesthetic.